N.S. Tory booted over accessibility of office, ‘pattern of behaviour’
By The Canadian Press
HALIFAX – Nova Scotia’s Progressive Conservative leader has expelled a Cape Breton caucus member who was ordered last week to make the driveway at her constituency office more accessible to people with limited mobility.
Tim Houston said Monday that Alana Paon has been removed “effective immediately.”
In a conference call, the Tory leader said Paon’s actions and comments critical of the legislature committee making the order were the “last straw” in a series of issues that arose with her.
“There’s been a pattern of behaviour that’s shown poor judgment,” he told reporters.
Houston said the problem areas included Paon’s management of her constituency office in St. Peter’s, her attendance at the office and her expenses for a Halifax apartment.
He declined to provide specifics, other than to indicate he’d been meeting with her on different occasions about these matters for over two months.
In a statement issued to the media late Monday, Paon said she was “elected to be the voice of constituents in Cape Breton-Richmond” and would have more to say about her future plans in the coming days.
“I’m puzzled and in shock that Mr. Houston would make a decision like this. I filed paperwork with the Speaker’s Office in May 2018 reporting that my office complied with barrier-free workplace requirements,” she said in the statement.
Houston had said comments Paon made to CBC on Friday about a year-old order to pave a portion of her office’s gravel driveway to allow accessibility were “mean spirited” and led to his decision to expel her from caucus.
The office has a ramp leading to the side door, but the driveway surrounding the ramp is dirt and gravel.
Paon told CBC that “the only people that seem to be unreasonable about this is the Speaker’s office and the members of the House of Assembly management commission.”
She said she wasn’t going to spend $12,000 from her constituency allowance paving the driveway of a building she rents, and added the request was “absolutely ridiculous.”
The legislature committee ruled that Paon wouldn’t receive office rent after not complying with the motion from the House of Assembly management commission to do the work.
Houston said he regretted that the Speaker and members of the management commission were subjected to accusations by Paon.
He said he told Paon she was being dropped from caucus in a “difficult” telephone call on Monday morning.
The requirement for barrier-free offices for members of the legislature was adopted in the fall of 2013 and took effect after that year’s election.
Newly elected members then had a year to comply with the barrier-free guidelines set out in law.
Paon was elected in 2017.