Embattled politician vows to fight possible ouster from N.S. legislature

HALIFAX – A Nova Scotia politician who has pleaded guilty to fraud vowed Wednesday to fight his possible expulsion from the legislature upon hearing his colleagues had been recalled to decide his fate as a sitting member.

House Speaker Gordie Gosse said the Nova Scotia legislature would reconvene Thursday at noon to deal with the potential removal of Trevor Zinck.

Zinck said he would be there, too, battling to keep his Halifax-area seat.

“I’m going to continue to fight this,” he said in an interview from his Dartmouth North constituency office. “There are bigger crooks in politics.”

Zinck pleaded guilty Monday in Nova Scotia Supreme Court to breach of trust and fraud over $5,000 for filing bogus expense claims. Three other former politicians have also pleaded guilty to fraud-related charges that stemmed from a 2010 investigation by the province’s auditor general into constituency allowance spending.

There has been mounting pressure from all political parties for Zinck to resign, but he has repeatedly rejected that idea.

Zinck said Wednesday he was “gathering support” and discussing the matter with his lawyer.

“They’ve taken it in their own hands to decide the fate of representation in my community and I don’t believe that it’s right,” he said.

The rare decision to reconvene the house was made following an NDP caucus meeting Wednesday in Halifax.

Deputy premier Frank Corbett said the government wanted to give Zinck time to resign. But after a review of house rules by legislative counsel, his time was up, Corbett said.

“It wouldn’t have been fair to ask somebody to resign and then an hour later call the house back,” he said.

Corbett said the government is taking action because the public had made it clear it didn’t want Zinck to continue to sit in the house and draw a paycheque.

“That’s our motivation and I would have hoped Mr. Zinck would have heard that, but he’s of his own mind and will do what he’s going to do,” the deputy premier said.

If removed, Zinck would forfeit his pension as a result of recent amendments passed by the legislature. As well, he would not get a severance.

The last time the house was recalled to expel a sitting member was in 1986, when a special statute was passed to force out Billy Joe MacLean.

MacLean, a cabinet minister in then-premier John Buchanan’s Conservative government, had pleaded guilty to filing false expense claims.

Premier Darrell Dexter said Wednesday it was important to deal with the Zinck matter as soon as possible.

“What people see is a serious dereliction of a person’s duty to the public at large and I think it warrants a statement by the house.”

Zinck’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for Aug. 7.

He was first elected as an NDP member in 2006 and re-elected in 2009.

When asked if he would run again, Zinck said, “In this world, anything is possible and, like I said, I’m a fighter.”