What happens next with the Thibeault estate case?

Halifax mayor Peter Kelly appears to be the next iteration of failed politician Rodney MacDonald.

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Halifax mayor Peter Kelly
  • Halifax mayor Peter Kelly
Last week, five of the heirs to the Mary Thibeault estate petitioned the Probate Court to have mayor Peter Kelly removed as executor. Two more heirs have told the court they intend to sign onto the petition in coming days. Readers will recall that The Coast revealed in February that Kelly had removed over $160,000 from Thibeault’s personal bank account, after she had died but before he submitted an inventory of her estate to the court.

The filing has left many wondering: what happens now?

A judge will hear the petitioners on September 19, and presumably rule soon after. Kelly could, of course, simply resolve the estate before that date, and submit all the required paperwork to the court. But considering the history, quick action on this matter seems highly unlikely.

Thibeault passed away December 7, 2004---Kelly was officially appointed executor in March 2005---and her affairs remain unsettled. The Coast first reported on this in March 2011, and beyond hiring a lawyer to take care of perfunctory notice requirements, Kelly took no real action to resolve the estate. Eleven months would go by, and in February 2012 we published our expose. Another four months has transpired, and still Kelly hasn’t filed even one more document with the court. Kelly isn’t saying why, even in the face of extreme public scrutiny, he has taken no action on the estate, but it appears there is some hugely complicating factor that prohibits it.

Even if Kelly does submit a full accounting of the estate, that accounting will be parsed and diced by the heirs, by the court, by reporters and, potentially, by police investigators, all looking for irregularities and improprieties.

Failing Kelly resolving the estate, the heirs are faced with a timing dilemma: Thibeault’s bank records can be legally destroyed in August---a month before the September hearing. If the heirs want Thibeault’s records to be considered as part of the hearing, they’ll have to find a way to get the records preserved. One way would be to petition the Supreme Court for an injunction on the banks; this would likely be very costly, even if they were successful. Another way for the heirs to have the bank records preserved is to file a formal complaint with the police, who would then presumably subpoena the records as part of an investigation.

Beyond the details of the estate, the rumour mill continues to spew out unfounded speculation about Kelly’s future. A few months ago it was said Kelly would be appointed to the Senate. After that, that he would run the Resource Recovery Board. Two weeks ago the movers and shakers in the establishment insisted Kelly was going to get back in the mayoral race. Now, the whisper circuit has it that Kelly will run for council in the newly created District 16, comprising Bedford and Wentworth, where Kelly resides.

These rumours all originate in nameless, faceless places, with no one willing to state them outright in public. Given the likelihood of the police at least investigating the handling of the Thibeault estate, it stretches the imagination that the Conservative Party hierarchy would take the PR risk of appointing Kelly to anything, and any candidate facing Kelly in an election would be foolish not to raise the estate in a very public way. More likely, Kelly is the next iteration of Rodney MacDonald, a failed politician whose embarrassing past locks him out of the political realm forever.

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