Speaker apologizes to MHA for Facebook flap

James McLeod
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

Gerry Rogers

Speaker Ross Wiseman formally admitted he was wrong, and apologized Tuesday for throwing New Democrat MHA Gerry Rogers out of the House of Assembly last week.

The stunning about-face for Wiseman capped a week of controversy and criticism about the government’s handling of social media and alleged death threats against Premier Kathy Dunderdale.

“I have become aware of considerably more information regarding the complexities and the nuances of this new evolving social media and its use, particularly as it pertains to legislatures and particularly the manner in which individuals may find themselves attached to a group without their explicit consent,” Wiseman said.

“Consequently, my finding of contempt in this situation was erroneous and I offer my own apology to  the member for St. John’s Centre,” the Speaker said.

Speaking to reporters later in the day, Rogers accepted Wiseman’s apology, but said it was really the government that should be saying sorry.

“I believe that the government attempted to misuse the House by doing a very transparent, political manoeuvre,” Rogers said. “Not only am I owed an apology from government members, but I do believe the people of Newfoundland and Labrador are owed an apology.”

On April 16, Government House Leader Darin King raised the issue of a Facebook group — “Kathy Dunderdale must GO!!!” — which included at least one violent, threatening comment from a user.

At the time the controversy first erupted, the group contained more than 1,600 members.

King argued that because Rogers was also a member of the group, she tacitly endorsed the violent posting, which involved a user musing about Dunderdale being assassinated.

Rogers was not given an opportunity to make an argument on the issue before Wiseman ruled that she must apologize for being a member of the group. When she refused to apologize, Wiseman found her in contempt and threw her out of the House.

Rogers has maintained that she was added to the group by another user without her knowledge or consent, and that the government’s attitude of guilt by association smears the other users who did not make threatening comments about the premier.

Meanwhile, Dunderdale and King have insisted for the past week that MHAs must avoid the appearance of associating with distasteful commentary online, even in the face of revelations by the CBC that Dunderdale’s Twitter account was associated with a pornographic user, and Tory MHA Paul Lane apparently endorsed Labrador Liberal candidate Yvonne Jones.

King wasn’t in the legislature Tuesday, but deputy House leader Keith Hutchings said he still stands by that position.

“We’re all responsible for associations we have as an elected official, or in any other capacity,” he said. “As an elected official, it’s up to us to communicate in the manner that we see fit, with those that we represent.”


Twitter: TelegramJames

Organizations: Government House, CBC

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page



Recent comments

  • David Benson
    April 25, 2013 - 07:58

    The issue is not that King and Wiseman were ignorant of social media. It doesn't matter if the Facebook site was Gerry Rogers' own fan club. All that is irrelevant. The issue is that King illegally used his position as Justice Minister to threaten a member of the House and private citizens and that Wiseman illegally took unto himself powers he does not have in a democratic parliamentary system and behaved like a Third World despot. He and King, with their illegal actions, sent shock waves throughout the Commonwealth. Wiseman has to be replaced as Speaker and King has to be replaced as Justice Minister if the Newfoundland and Labrador House of Assembly is to regain any credibility in the world.

  • darren neary
    April 24, 2013 - 20:12

    i think its time for the great puppeteer cathy clydsdale, to show some backbone and step forward and apolgize to the province and gerry, and then take her hand out her puppets backside and insist they do they same. shame on darrin king i noticed that he has been muzzled this broke. clean up your acts and start doing what you were elected to do.

  • apw
    April 24, 2013 - 18:18

    wow. That's all i have to say. And not about the story either - about the behavior of people here. calling each other out and being insulting because some one's opinion differs from yours. I can understand why the pc supporters are pc supporters, they are as ignorant and uncaring as the party themselves. (neither of those words are insulting by the way). The only way we will ever survive as a species is to stop belittling each other because we dont have the same beliefs that you do (i am using you in a general fashion) Regardless of who you support, anyone can see that this current gov't is out of control. And remember that if you can't say something nice, just dont say anything at all - it's obvious the telegram and the majority of people think this is news worthy. You are among a minority and if you cant stand to look at it or hear about it, turn it off ! Having said that, I agree that the gov't owes Gerry Rogers an apology, I believe that a gov't who insists they are right without listening to the people they are governing is not a gov't worth having. They stand their ground on the subject even though they blatantly messed up, and they know they messed up, but can not own up to the mistake. Much the same as every other decision that has been made, especially the irrational cuts to the budget, they have to hear the outcry from the people, but instead of owning up they are keeping quiet and pretending the people dont exist. Changes need to be made. We are entrusting these people to do what is best for us as a whole, and they have failed. I understand that you cannot please everyone, but you cant displease everyone either - there has to be some happy medium. WE ALL deserve an apology from the gov't.

  • Pam
    April 24, 2013 - 10:56

    Rogers keeps talking about this being about democracy...you can almost hear the laughter in her voice as she says it! This is all about trying to get people to sympathize with you! This is how they do things in the artsie fartsie world! Just hope people wake up real soon.

    • Cathy
      April 24, 2013 - 12:20

      Isn't that what Blunderwhale, King, Wiseman, Kent, Collins, Crummell, and on and on were doing? Don't be so disingenuous!!

    • Chris
      April 24, 2013 - 12:42

      Calling this a democracy with a straight face would be a challenge. Artst fartsy? What's that supposed to mean, that you have a grade 4 mentality? Pretty pathetic.

    • Not a supporter of Gerry
      April 24, 2013 - 18:39

      Will someone please tell Gerry Rogers to simply go away, she is making an idiot of herself, she reminds me of poor Andy Wells, always complaining about someone or something. Maybe Gerry is jealous that Kathy Dunderdale is doing such a great job. we should all be proud of Premier Dunderdale, including you Gerry Rogers, on the great job Kathy and her cabinet is doing on managing this great province of ours.

    • caboto
      April 29, 2013 - 07:55

      Artsie Fartsie ? ? ? - and what rock did you crawl out from under. Maybe you need to open your eyes and not be blinded by your own near-sightedness. What we are dealing with here is a government trying to run roughshod over everything and everybody and play the totalarian game. The government is not above the law and Gerry Rodger knows it.

  • Potty Trained
    April 24, 2013 - 08:24

    Ross Wiseman, is in over his head. He needs impartiality training. No experience and not able to determine when to consult his Speaker's staff before babbly out rulings. Democracy in action. I wonder who called him and told him he was wrong or did he really understand what Tom Osborne's motion to appeal his ruling was all about. Anyway, Mr. Speaker step aside and let another well qualified (ha,ha) PC become speaker!!!!!

  • Torbay Tattler
    April 24, 2013 - 08:00

    Now how long will it take for Blunderwhale to apologize to the province for wasting taxpayers money invesitgating all of this? Do us all a favor Kathy, step down, for the better of the province. It is embarassing.

  • Mary
    April 24, 2013 - 07:43

    About time to apology, this is not democracy this is more like dictatorship. I don't believe anything is accomplished by threats either but this went abit too far. Down right childish in which alot of NL'S are long past getting tired off!!

  • Ben
    April 24, 2013 - 07:19

    Oh god how much longer do we have to hear about this! All the MHA's should be off Facebook and Twitter. Lets get back to doing things the old fashioned way...lets actually talk to each other. PS...how much longer will we see Rogers face splashed everywhere? Its getting a little old!!

    • Robb
      April 24, 2013 - 07:47

      Yes Ben, I can't stand to see her face splashed everywhere, with the puppy face that the ndp want everyone to witness....well, I bet this one will backfire on the ndp, as they should have just mentioned it and let it go.......but they play this card so much to gain sympathy and it makes one gag....really makes Dunderdale look much more intelligent than the ndp could ever be.....they have no concept of economics anyway, so they try this to cover up their incompetence. And never mind the puppy face on rogers, she is just as cut-throat as the rest of the ndp and liberal cronies. And then to keep her name associated with a violence on that website is just throwing it in everyone's face.....this puppy face just cannot be trusted....

    • Cathy
      April 24, 2013 - 08:42

      I'd rather see Gerry Rogers' face "spalshed everywhere" than Kathy Blunderwhale's.

    • Robb
      April 24, 2013 - 09:34

      Pretty good Cathy....what are you, in grade 2....??....Blunderwhale....??....you need to grow up and get out of the daycare....but this is what is to be expected from the incompetence of the ndp....

    • Cathy
      April 24, 2013 - 10:24

      Incompetence of the NDP? Have you looked at the state of things in the hands of your beloved Tories, Robb? And you getting on with your nonsense is straight out of a daycare. Hypocrite!!

    • B.W
      April 24, 2013 - 10:25

      We're going to keep hearing about it under everyone single one of the Tories realize that this is NOT a dictatorship and they do NOT get to smear their opponents and step on their rights. As a member of the group I can tell you that there has been a LOT of intentional misinformation sent out from the Tories not only on the purpose of the group but on the comment that was made. Just yesterday, King read into public record: ""Mr. Speaker, what we have seen over the last three or four weeks, perhaps, in particular, is a shift in the way that people are starting to express their views and even in some of the actions that we are seeing throughout the Province. For information of the House, there are currently two interlinked Web sites published on Facebook expressing in what I would suggest to you, Mr. Speaker, to be the most vile and contemptible language that I have ever seen personally: the desire of protestors to not only intimidate and obstruct government, but indeed to assassinate the Premier." This is not only blatantly untrue, but if this is the way they deal with dissent and with a group dedicated to pointing out their faults and to have them ousted THROUGH THE DEMOCRATIC PROCESS, then anyone who is critical to the Tory regime will be smeared in the same way. This is unacceptable, and if he can't be impartial and recognize the rights of others he has no place in government.

    • No Muskrat
      April 24, 2013 - 12:35

      ROBB, you got it all wrong, there isn't anything that I can compare to that would make Dunderdale look more intelligent, the rock outside my door looks more intelligent than Dunderdale, I guess all the NDP gain is a sore spot for you,

    • Robb
      April 24, 2013 - 14:52

      Again, pretty good Cathy....there you go with the name calling again.....and I actually gave you grade 2.........here's an idea, grow up and lose the name calling, it's just plain stupid.

  • Harvey
    April 24, 2013 - 07:11

    Where's the apology from Darrin King? His childish attitude, his contemptuous attitude is killing a party that I once so enthusiastically voted forj!