Accused of being part of anti-government Facebook group that included threats to Premier Kathy Dunderdale
Gerry Rogers. — Telegram file photo
New Democrat MHA Gerry Rogers was thrown out of the House of Assembly and held in contempt of parliament today for being associated with a Facebook group.
The Facebook group in question was an anti-government group, and several comments on the page involved death threats against Premier Kathy Dunderdale.
The brouhaha lasted most of the afternoon, with Speaker Ross Wiseman considering the issues before he ruled that Rogers was in contempt of the House.
When Wiseman said MHAs need to be careful about their actions online, and who they're seen to be associating with, he said Rogers should apologize for being a part of the "Dunderdale must GO!!!" group.
"I cannot apologize for something I did not do," she said.
Rogers told reporters outside the House that since she was brought into the group without her knowledge by somebody else on Facebook, she would not apologize.
The implications of her getting thrown out of the House are unclear. She said she would return to her seat Wednesday, but it is not clear whether there will be any long-term consequences of her refusal.
One poster on the Facebook group mused about Dunderdale being shot, and another image posted online called her a terrorist.
Dunderdale told reporters that she won't be bullied, but the negative public reaction to the March 26 budget has been staggering. She said on at least two occasions, she's been verbally accosted in public by public service employees.
Speaker of the House of Assembly Ross Wiseman says there's no way to know how NDP MHA Gerry Rogers came to be a member of the Facebook group referred to earlier by Justice Minister Darin King.
Wiseman says he will give Rogers the "benefit of the doubt."
Wiseman, however, did hold Rogers in contempt and asked her to apologize.
Rogers refused and was escorted from the House of Assembly by the Sergeant at Arms.
Proceedings in the House of Assembly in St. John’s went off the rails right away today with Government House Leader Darin King accusing NDP MHA Gerry Rogers of endorsing death threats on Facebook.
King is asking the Speaker to throw Rogers out of the House for being a member of a Facebook group that's been the centre of anti-government sentiment in the past week or so.
King said some of the comments by members of the Facebook group, which have since been deleted, include direct death threats against Premier Kathy Dunderdale.
A Facebook group entitled "Kathy Dunderdale must GO!!!" has around 1,600 members, including Rogers.
The House of Assembly is currently in recess.
NDP Leader Lorraine Michael said this was the first she has heard about it and asked for a few moments to look into the matter and prepare a response.
Speaker Ross Wiseman has said he plans on dealing with the situation before routine proceedings start back up in the House.
King said this may be a matter for the police to be involved with, as well.