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Here's A Rundown Of The Batshit Insanity That Is Nova Scotia Politics Right Now

If you thought your local politics was strange, you've got nothing on Nova Scotia.

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Nova Scotia has been caught up in a political scandal that just keeps getting weirder — it involves secret recordings, alleged bribery, archaic laws that hadn't been used in decades, and biting. Here's what happened.

In the fall of 2013 the Nova Scotia Liberals oust the NDP and win a majority government. Andrew Younger, seen as a smart guy who could one day make a run for leadership, was named Energy Minister.

Everything was going great until a few hours after Younger was sworn in. That evening he was allegedly bitten by a woman in a park called "The Dingle."

A year goes by, and in fall of 2014 Younger starts receiving mysterious threats in the mail at his office.

Police investigate the threats and over the course of their investigation learn about the Dingle incident. They charge former Liberal staffer Tara Gault with assault. She pleads not guilty.

Younger, who is married, said he formerly had a "personal relationship" with Gault.


The story is front page news and Younger steps down from cabinet so things can blow over.

It seems like the story is winding down. In July of this year, Younger is accepted back into cabinet, this time as environment minister.

Then in early November Tara Gault is acquitted after Younger surprisingly refuses to show up to testify at her trial. He invokes his privilege as a member of the provincial legislature. The rarely-used power meant Younger could not be compelled to testify when the legislature was sitting.

It turns out a politician using a power that normal people don't have does not go over well with normal people. The public was angered by Younger using a law almost no one had heard of to avoid an embarrassing courtroom appearance. Premier Stephen McNeil said he got conflicting explanations from Younger and then booted him from cabinet (again) and the Liberal caucus.

But Younger does not go down quietly. He reveals he secretly recorded a conversation between himself and the premier's chief of staff, Kirby McVicar, in February.


Younger told the CBC he made the recording to protect himself. The tape catches McVicar, the right-hand-man to the premier, seeming to offer Younger's wife a job to help ease their financial pain.

There's also a whole side-plot about an anonymous letter dropped off at the legislature that accuses Mcvicar of bribery.

Things fall into chaos as different tapes become public. One is 43 seconds long, another version is almost three minutes long. The legislature votes to force Younger to reveal the full tape, which is apparently a thing they can do, but Younger swears an oath that he doesn't have it.

Then the Speaker of the legislative assembly issues a warrant, which apparently is also a thing that can happen, ordering Younger to turn over the full recording. This power hasn't been invoked in almost a century.

If Younger doesn't hand over the tape he can be kicked out of the legislature by the Liberal majority. The whole thing feels like something out of Soviet Russia.


@MichaelTGorman 3/2 Think of the implications: Government forces opposition member to (e.g.) reveal a source, on pain of losing their seat.

Regardless, Younger says he managed to find the tape after all on the cloud and hands over what he promises is the full thing. It's 12 minutes long.

In it, McVicar tells Younger he could get back into cabinet someday. He also calls reporters "animals" and advises Younger to tell them: "No comment. It's my private life. Go fuck yourself."

McVicar also goes on a lengthy tirade about Rick Grant, a well-liked CTV reporter who just retired. "That's how Rick works on his Enquirer bullshit," says McVicar.

"You know why? He's been there 38 years. That's the problem, he's been around too fucking long. He's not interested in what government does or says anymore, he's only interested if someone's been in a car accident or, you know, he's just ambulance chasing."

On November 23, McVicar refuses to resign over the controversy.

On November 24, McVicar resigns over the the controversy.

But the resignation wasn't for the tape itself, it was for saying that Younger had PTSD and brain cancer.

Global News / Via

McVicar had told reporters that he wasn't really offering Younger's wife a job, but was just saying that to relieve Younger's stress because he'd heard Younger had PTSD and possibly a brain tumour.

Younger then files a privacy complaint about McVicar disclosing his personal medical information. The premier, once again finding himself at the centre of an embarrassing story, accepts McVicar's resignation. (Younger confirmed he did have PTSD but not a brain tumor.)

So where are we now?

McVicar is out of a job. The premier is without a chief of staff and still facing questions on the whole affair every day. Younger remains a member of the legislature but now sits as an Independent.

As for Tara Gault, she not only escaped conviction but just became a lawyer.

Paul McLeod is a politics reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.

Contact Paul McLeod at

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