CBRM Mayor John Morgan, facing serious opposition* for the first time in 12 years, is scrambling to justify his cash-strapped municipality's snap decision to spend $6 million in tax money to block a private sector development that promised immediate jobs. On just two days' notice last month, CBRM outbid a private sector developer to buy the Greenfield Site, a 400-acre parcel on Sydney's freshly dredged harbour. At the time, Morgan said the so-called mystery developer planned to use the site for a bulk terminal that would permanently preclude its use as a container pier, the Great Big Project Morgan continually upholds as...

In a rare instance of a local voice taking on Sydney's popular but incessantly negative mayor, a Cape Breton Post editorial criticized two recent tweets by His Worship:  It was typical Morgan stuff: ...

The Supreme Court of Canada refusal to hear the Cape Breton Regional Municipality's equalization lawsuit was not as predictable as the rising of the sun this morning. But it was close. The lawsuit was cynical ploy by a mayor who likes to posture as a scrapper for the little guy, but refuses to do the hard work needed to reach political solutions to the little guy's problems.
  • Contrary to popular belief, even a total victory for CBRM would not have brought the municipality a single dime. It didn't even ask for money.
  • In any case, the lawsuit had no chance of success. Aside from Mayor John Morgan and his pricey Toronto constitutional lawyer, Contrarian has been unable to find a single lawyer who thought it had any chance of success.
  • Although the case suffered a mercifully early death—it was thrown out before trial—the mayor's insistence on appealing to the highest court in the land frittered away at least $500,000 in legal bills, and wasted three five years that could better have been spent seeking a political solution. During that time, CBRM ran up another $60 million $100 million in debt its citizens cannot afford.
  • The mayor now says he will seek a political solution, but he is playing a weaker hand, having demonstrated that his constitutional claims lack legal validity.
I believe the municipality has a case for greater provincial assistance in meeting basic service needs. I hope the Dexter Government, financially strapped as it is, gives the problem a fair hearing. But the mayor's legal adventure not only delayed a solution, it encouraged the worst impulses of Cape Breton's culture of dependency, and it reinforced the rest of the world's weary stereotype of Cape Bretoners as people with their hands out. In all these respects, it did a disservice to the very citizens Morgan claims to champion. Elaboration after the jump.