Darin King, in his own words

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Darin King’s news conference was about doing a 180 on some of the most controversial cuts to the justice system. Last spring, he laid off nine sheriff's officers and cut at least five legal aid lawyers.

On Monday, King pumped $13.5 million into Legal Aid and the Office of the High Sheriff based on recommendations from a pair of independent reviews that were done in the wake of overwhelming criticism from the legal community last spring.

King was asked what information he used to justify the cuts last spring, given the fact that independent experts are now saying that it was the wrong decision. Here’s what he said:

“Tough decisions have to be made. Never did I say that the decisions that were made at that time were because they were in the best interest of the court. They were financial decisions that had to be made, and we felt that we could move along, but you know, this is about listening to people.”

This happened around 10:45 a.m. Then, everybody went for lunch and reconvened in the House of Assembly around 2 p.m. for question period.

New Democrat MHA Gerry Rogers used the opportunity to follow up on one of her pet issues — family violence intervention court, which was also cut by King in last year’s budget.

Rogers asked the following question during question period:

“Mr. Speaker, today at the minister’s press conference, he said about the cuts he made last year: I was given a fiscal situation to deal with, and some decisions were made not in the best interest of the courts. I ask the minister: Will he now correct all the mistakes he made last year and reinstate the Family Violence Intervention Court?”

Here’s how King responded to the question:

“First of all, Mr. Speaker, I did not say what the member opposite alleges I said, for the record. The comment I made this morning was that in the budget last year I was given a fiscal situation where I had to make some tough decisions. I never once said anything along the lines that she repeated here today, that they are irresponsible or not in the best interest of the court. I said it was a snapshot in time.

“Today, we are making decisions because we are in a different spot with the budget. Last year, I had tough decisions to make and I made them and I stand by them. That is what we do. When you are in government you make tough decisions. Sometimes you have to change those decisions.

“Sometimes you recognize there are positions you take and people want you to move away from them. You have to be big enough to admit that you need to do that. I did that with Legal Aid and with the Sheriff’s Office. Today, we have produced two documents that are going to have tremendous benefits to the people of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.” (Emphasis added.)

One more time, just for good measure, here's what King said Monday morning:

“Tough decisions have to be made. Never did I say that the decisions that were made at that time were because they were in the best interest of the court. They were financial decisions that had to be made, and we felt that we could move along, but you know, this is about listening to people.”

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