A Moncton business consultant, who is a longtime Progressive Conservative, has been hired to create the new municipality that will include Sackville, Dorchester and surrounding communities such as Wood Point, Westcock and Pointe de Bute.
Chad Peters is president and CEO of Lynwood Strategies, a communications agency that helps its corporate clients protect and enhance their reputations partly by using social and traditional media and partly by aligning their “goals with those of government.”
in 2007, Peters ran unsuccessfully in a provincial by-election as the Conservative candidate in Moncton East. The Moncton Times & Transcript described him then as “a former businessman who works in Fredericton managing a team of policy and research analysts for the Tories.”
Peters has also served as manager of exploration at SWN Resources, the Canadian subsidiary of a Texas oil and gas company that was drilling test wells for shale gas in New Brunswick. The company ran into trouble in 2013 when resistors from the Elsipogtog First Nation blocked its trucks and occupied the land, actions that led to a violent confrontation with the RCMP.
In 2016, more than a year after a newly elected Liberal government imposed a moratorium on fracking, Peters was laid off when SWN Resources pulled out of New Brunswick. That was the year that he founded Lynwood Strategies.
Peters, who was in Sackville Wednesday for a closed-door meeting with town council, declined to be interviewed for this story
“All media requests need to be directed to the Department of Local Government and Local Governance Reform,” he wrote in an e-mail response to my phone messages.
“He may be a nice guy, but he’s doing a bad job in the sense that he’s been hired to do a bad job,” Councillor Bill Evans told CHMA news after Wednesday’s meeting with Peters.
“He seems like a nice guy,” Evans added. “But if someone comes into your house with a gun and he’s polite, does he get credit for that?
“I mean that’s how I feel about this, this is like a hostile takeover,” Evans said referring to the forced amalgamation.
Councillor Sabine Dietz agreed with Evans about Peters’ role in the process.
“Just remember that he has absolute power over decision-making,” she said, adding that although two advisory committees are being established, Peters doesn’t have to listen to anything they say.
“The little bit of influence that the advisory committee can have, it’s only pretending in this process because there are very clear power dynamics.”
Dietz said that Peters’ title of facilitator is misleading because under the new local governance reform act, he’s hired to act as a representative to implement what the provincial government wants.
“When you’re a real facilitator, you are supporting a process, you are not the decision-maker; you have the power of guiding a process,” Dietz added. “But he has absolute power, what he decides, goes.”
Mesheau more upbeat
Mayor Shawn Mesheau sounded more hopeful after Wednesday’s meeting with Peters.
“We’ve been dealt a hand of cards here that maybe we’re not happy with, but we have to play those cards and move it forward,” he said.
Mesheau explained that one of the advisory committees would consist of elected and appointed representatives and the other of municipal staff.
He said that although initially Sackville was given only one representative on the first advisory committee, Peters seemed receptive to the idea of allowing the town to have two and that he’s hoping that both he and Deputy Mayor Andrew Black will serve on it.
That committee would make recommendations on such issues as the name for the new municipality, how many councillors it would have and which areas they would represent.
The other committee of municipal staff would make recommendations on municipal operations.
Mesheau says that the amalgamation process is designed to build a foundation for the new, amalgamated municipality.
“We’re being grouped with other communities,” he adds. “Ultimately, when it comes to building that foundation, we do have to have consensus within that group…I’m hoping that we can find consensus to build that foundation to move things forward.”
Note: (1) During Wednesday’s meeting, Chad Peters gave permission for the release of his power point presentation. To view it click here.
(2) According to the government website, Peters is overseeing four other municipal units: amalgamation of the Village of Salisbury & surrounding LSDs; amalgamation of the Village of Port Elgin & surrounding LSDs; amalgamation of the villages and LSDs around Alma and whatever changes they’re making to the Village of Petitcodiac.
Great reporting Bruce. It’s hard to believe that this individual is qualified or has the background to make this happen. The Higgs government thinks they are out of the woods on this municipal “reform” but I have a feeling that the blowup will happen over the next 12-18 months, especially when former LSD residents get their new tax bills….
The title of ‘facilitator’ is a joke. If that simplistic slide show is any evidence, this Apparatchik will do the bidding of the Premier’s office, and good luck to those of us who live here.
I have sent the following query to Minister Allain with a cc to Mr. Peters :
“Hi Minister Allain,
I am a resident of Sackville who like many others is very concerned about the amalgamation plan that is being forced on our municipality. Several academic experts on local government and municipal reform have publicly expressed criticism of the provincial government’s approach to the municipal reform that is underway in New Brunswick, including Professor of Local Government, Jack Novak, of Dalhousie University, Professor Geoff Martin, of Mount Allison University, a specialist in the study of local governments, and Professor Zachary Taylor, who is director of the Centre for Urban Policy and Local Governance at Western University. In interviews they have suggested preferable reform models such as the regional districts that were created by the British Columbia provincial government in the 1960’s.
Can you tell me what academic experts on municipal reform and local governance were consulted by the New Brunswick Provincial Department of Local Government and Local Government Reform for advice and input on the best models for municipal reform? I can’t find any information on this on the Department website.
Thank you for whatever information you can provide.”
Chad. Isn’t it great to live in interesting times folks.
Change makes so many boomers uncomfortable at this website’s comments section. Amusing.
Great to know all of this information – thanks Bruce.
Hi Sally, once again you miss the point. I think the majority of residents who follow provincial politics realize that some form of change is needed in order to provide residents living in LSD’s with local representation rather than living under edicts coming directly from Fredericton. It is not change itself that people are against, but rather the heavy handed, autocratic way in which the provincial government is attempting to make the change happen while ignoring the suggestions and ideas brought forward in so-called ‘consultation’ meetings with municipal and LSD representatives in the last couple of years.
Minister Allain has obviously not been dealing in good faith in meetings with those representatives in which he told the big lie that the government would NOT use forced amalgamation to bring about the change that it wanted, and then afterwards shamefully broke that promise. After his blatant lying why should any members of the public believe that the Progressive Conservative government has the best interests of the residents of New Brunswick in mind when deciding dictatorially on what changes are made to local governance?
Is that what total lack of democracy, transparency, and public consultation is called now? Sounds like the kind of rebranding that we could expect from a PR company such as Chad Peters’. As has always been the case in NB, the best jobs come from “aligning your goals with those of government”.