Councillor says hiring of Peter Kelly as Charlottetown CAO 'unnecessarily risky'

Published on September 1, 2017

Charlottetown Coun. Bob Doiron holds a report released Wednesday that is highly critical of Peter Kelly, the city’s CAO, during his run in that same position for an Alberta municipality. Doiron says Charlottetown residents have frequently voiced concern over the controversial hiring of Kelly.


CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - Charlottetown Coun. Bob Doiron calls the controversial hiring of Peter Kelly as the city’s chief administrative officer “unnecessarily risky.’’ 

Doiron says residents of the municipality have frequently asked him why the city would hire someone “with a sketchy background’’ to such a prominent position.

Now comes the potentially damning report.

A municipal inspection report released Wednesday determined Kelly “acted without proper authority’’ in his former post as CAO for the Alberta municipality of Westlock County.

The lengthy report is highly critical of Kelly, noting he took such actions as negotiating an industrial land lease and authorizing site improvements “in the absence of an authorizing council resolution.’’

Doiron only had time to give the 115-page report a brief look before speaking candidly with The Guardian Thursday.

Still, he has grave concerns with the hiring of Kelly and in keeping him on.

“I think (the report) was critical of Mr. Kelly,’’ he says.

“If it’s found that he didn’t do things properly, that’s a major, major concern with me. He is dealing with a lot of contracts…we look to him to be a person that knows right from wrong.’’

Doiron says he knew little about Kelly when the man was hired as Charlottetown’s CAO – and he certainly was not aware of the controversy surrounding Kelly’s tenure with Westlock County.

He says councillors like him that were not on the hiring committee were not even allowed to ask Kelly any questions when he was shortlisted and spoke to council as one of two possible candidates for the job

“I think before you hire someone you need to know everything is on the table,’’ says Doiron, who had heard only that Kelly had been a good mayor for Halifax before he was hired as Charlottetown’s CAO.

“You need to know all the allegations about (Kelly)…I never investigated the man’s background.’’

City of Charlottetown CAO Peter Kelly
File photo

Doiron was far more willing than his fellow councillors to offer his thoughts on Kelly in light of the critical report.

The Guardian first approached the city’s communications officer, Jennifer Gavin, requesting a response from the municipality on the report.

She replied in an emailed statement that the city corporation was not prepared to comment on the contents of the report Thursday, as council needs time to read and discuss the report.

“When council has had a chance to do that, we will get back in touch with the media with comments from the city corporation’s standpoint,’’ Gavin stated.

Instead of waiting, phone calls were made to Mayor Clifford Lee, Deputy Mayor Mike Duffy and all councillors.

Most were in no hurry to comment, noting they needed time to read the lengthy report and meet with council.

Coun. Eddie Rice, though, said he planned to read the report right away and than share his thoughts with The Guardian.

“It’s a serious document,’’ he says.

In June, the city lifted Kelly’s probationary status that was put in place due to the review of the controversial land deal in Alberta that resulted in Wednesday’s report.

Council made clear should Kelly be convicted of being in violation of any law, his employment status would be reviewed.

“We did put a stipulation in the contract with Mr. Kelly if anything comes back illegal than his contract would be null and void with no remuneration paid,’’ says Doiron.