No cooling-off period in new CAO’s contract

Jacques Dubé has a verbal agreement with the mayor to not go work for developers.


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Halifax is hoping that Jacques Dubé is a man of his word.

The municipality’s new chief administrative officer doesn’t have a cooling-off period written into his employment agreement. 
Instead, Dubé has a verbal agreement with HRM promising not to work in the development industry after he’s done at city hall.

“We’re told legally that’s a very difficult thing because of the broad range of services a city’s involved in,” says mayor Mike Savage, “but he’s committed to me he won’t go work in the development industry in Halifax when he leaves his job.”

The former Moncton city manager was announced as Halifax’s newest CAO on Wednesday. He’ll replace former CAO Richard Butts, who infamously left city hall at the end of last year to become president of Clayton Developments.

Butts’ career change from top municipal bureaucrat to head of one of HRM’s largest development firms was met with sharp criticism from city councillors and members of the public.

At the time, Savage told reporters that a ‘cooling-off’ or buffer period would be looked at as part of the next CAO’s employment agreement to prevent a similar exit in the future.

That option was considered, confirms Savage, but ultimately dropped.

“It would be very difficult to say ‘You can’t go to any place the city does business with,’” says the mayor. “There virtually is nothing in the city that the city doesn’t have business with. I’ve asked for more information from legal on it, but in the meantime I’ve raised it with him verbally and he’s assured me he won’t go to the development industry when he finishes.”

HRM’s legal department is still looking into writing the non-compete clause into Dubé’s contract, says Savage, but the municipality wanted to “get the offer out the door.”

Dubé’s employment agreement does come with updated confidentiality clauses, prohibiting him from using any confidential information acquired during his time with HRM even after he leaves the job.

“The CAO cannot use that information (regardless of whether it is the municipality’s information or information belonging to a third party) for personal benefit or to the benefit of any other party,” explains manager of public affairs Breton Murphy via email. “Likewise any information acquired during the CAO’s tenure cannot be used to the detriment of any party.”

Murphy says previous CAOs also had a confidentiality clause in their employment agreements, but it’s been strengthened in the wake of Butts’ departure.

“It’s been made more robust, to just ensure that confidentiality is clear.”

Dubé starts his new job on September 12. Municipal solicitor John Traves will continue filling in as acting CAO until that time.

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