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Two members of Nova Scotia riding team resign over handling of DUI allegation

HALIFAX — Two members of a Liberal riding association in Nova Scotia have resigned over the party's handling of an allegation of drunk driving against a member of the legislature.
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HALIFAX — Two members of a Liberal riding association in Nova Scotia have resigned over the party's handling of an allegation of drunk driving against a member of the legislature.

Former Liberal backbencher Hugh MacKay — who now sits as an Independent — faces a charge of impaired operation of a motor vehicle in connection with an incident on Nov. 22, 2018.

Ron Meagher confirmed to The Canadian Press that he and Katherine Williams, the treasurer of the Chester-St. Margaret's Liberal association, resigned on Thursday.

Meagher would not comment further, and Williams could not be reached for comment on Friday.

At the legislature, Premier Stephen McNeil thanked both for their service while speaking to reporters.

"They have obviously made a decision based on what's happening with the riding association, and the riding association now will rebuild and move forward," he said.

For a second consecutive day, McNeil defended chief of staff Laurie Graham's handling of a phone call last May alleging MacKay had driven drunk.

The premier has previously said that Graham spoke to MacKay and to his constituency assistant about the allegation and determined that there was no "basis or foundation" to it.

"As I look at the circumstances surrounding what's taken place, I would have made the same decision that my chief of staff made, because we had no evidence and there was other private and personal information that we are not at liberty to talk about," McNeil said.

He refused to divulge the name of the person who called Graham, saying only that it was a "party official."

Earlier this week, the Opposition Tories made public an email that was sent to the riding executive last May that made detailed allegations about a Nov. 22, 2018 incident involving MacKay, which the author said they could "no longer keep hidden."

The allegations have not been proven in court, and the name of the person making them is redacted in the copy released. In an email Friday, MacKay called the allegations false and said he intends to make a statement on the matter Tuesday at the legislature.

MacKay pleaded guilty to a separate impaired driving charge last fall and was fined. He released a statement following the Oct. 13, 2019 incident that discussed his struggles with alcohol addiction, and he said he had been undergoing treatment since 2004.

McNeil said it was only then that he and others in the party became aware that MacKay was struggling with a problem.

MacKay is scheduled to appear in a Halifax court on March 16 in connection with the 2018 incident.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 28, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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