Agriculture minister meeting with NSPE board

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Commission's long-serving legal firm ‘released' from duties

BIBLE HILL - The legal firm that has represented the Nova Scotia Provincial Exhibition (NSPE) commission for decades has been "released" from its duties.

"They just said you won't need your solicitor anymore so you should put them on notice immediately that they won't be required anymore," NSPE chairman Bruce Kennedy said, of instructions he received from the Department of Agriculture regarding Truro legal firm Burchell MacDougall.

"As far as I know, we have released our lawyer to defray costs," he said. "My understanding of it was that we don't spend anymore money than we need to, and where the minister stepped in to do an audit, he stepped in to do the legal costs."

A couple of weeks ago, Agriculture Minister Keith Colwell said he was planning to order a financial audit of the commission's financial books in an effort to determine how it became mired in debt that last year was reported to be more than $1 million.

Some of that debt has been paid down but the commission still owes $422,000 to the Nova Scotia Farm Loan Board as well as several hundred thousand dollars in other outstanding financial obligations, including money owed for simulcast betting.

The Farm Loan Board recently called in the commission's loan and has taken possession of the NSPE grounds and its facilities.

Colwell was in Truro on Wednesday for a late afternoon meeting with NSPE stakeholders and users and he was also scheduled to meet the board in an in-camera meeting that evening.

"I'm not even sure where we stand as a commission until tonight," Kennedy said Wednesday afternoon. "They will provide anything through the interim of this program that their trying to revamp whatever it might be. We'll find out tonight."

Linda Hupman, who has been serving as Burchell MacDougall's representative for the commission since 1999, said she was not given "any actual reason" for the firm's release of its duties.

"That decision is certainly within the purview of the board to make," she said.

hsullivan@trurodaily.com

Twitter: @tdnharry

   

Organizations: NSPE board, Department of Agriculture, Nova Scotia Farm Loan Board

Geographic location: Truro

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