Gloria McCluskey is a tough old battleaxe. Last year she went through open-heart surgery and was back at her council duties a mere two weeks later. Last month she had knee surgery, and kept apace of council budget deliberations by television and phone from her recovery bed. She is a large presence at council---she's outspoken, won't take shit from anybody and doesn't suffer fools.
McCluskey was mayor of the former city of Dartmouth, and opted not to get involved with the Halifax Regional Municipality when it was formed. But, feeling that Dartmouth was getting the short end of the stick with amalgamation, after six years she decided to return to politics and ran for regional council. She ably represents her old city, and was much opposed to the idea of switching the name of the HRM to "to the City of Halifax"---"I live in Dartmouth," she says. "Not Halifax."
With her long governmental experience, McCluskey knows the ins and outs of city hall, regularly calls city staff out on their conniving ways and is a strident critic of the ballooning and free-spending bureaucracy. And, to her great credit, she has been on the right side of the two biggest boneheaded initiatives to come out of city hall---the Commonwealth Games bid and tax "reform."
On the minus side, McCluskey is a bit of a traditionalist---no visionary, she---and doesn't seem to grasp the urgency of the environmental challenges we face---asked what the most pressing issue in her district is, she says "roads." But she's hardly alone on that account, and it sounds kind of petty to point it out.
Grade: B (Gloria's Cell: 476-1667)
WHAT WE SAID IN 2007 (Grade: C)¨
It takes a heckuva lot to stop the Gloria. She was back at council a mere 18 days after going through open-heart surgery in late April. McCluskey is a tad unpredictable. She’s spoken out against the Twisted Sisters, but has been pro-other dense developments within her own riding (King’s Wharf, for example).
This past year, McCluskey went on a rampage against the in-camera private council sessions, storming out of one such meeting in frustration. McCluskey also helped bring about action on the unsightly building that used to house the Dartmouth Heritage Museum on Wyse Road, calling the building an eyesore (which it was) and advocating that it be torn down (which it will be this summer). A small thing, but imagine if every councillor made a fuss about the ugly useless buildings in their district...we might have a much sexier city.Remarks: If nothing else, Gloria seems like she’s always willing to speak her mind, to an unnervingly honest degree. It’s worth the C simply for the “What’s she gonna say next?” factor.