The House of Assembly at Confederation Building in St. John's. — File photo by James McLeod/The Telegram
Opposition House Leader Andrew Parsons sparked a tense exchange with Finance Minister Jerome Kennedy on the floor of the House of Assembly Thursday, when Parsons wanted to know about the fallout from government cuts to the Justice Department.
The nasty, personal shots back and forth on the final sitting day of the House were sparked when Parsons asked about lawyers leaving the province.
"We have just learned that an experienced Crown prosecutor has resigned in this province and accepted a job in Alberta. He said due to the cuts from Budget 2013, he has no confidence in the attorney general, no confidence in the minister of Justice or the premier to make even the most basic of decisions," Parsons said. "So I ask the minister: do you now understand the full effect of your harmful cuts to our justice system?"
Attorney General Tom Marshall assured Parsons that, "I have full confidence in the prosecution service in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, and so can the people of this province."
Parsons shot back that it's just not true.
"The attorney general may have confidence, but the people in the system do not," Parsons said.
"Justice officials in Alberta have said that they are getting a lot of calls from lawyers in our province since this government imposed cuts on our system. We have been told that the cuts from Budget 2013 expose every front-line Crown prosecutor in our province to an increased likelihood of an avoidable error and professional liability."
This seemed to set Kennedy off. He started shouting across the House at Parsons, saying that the accusations were "crap."
Both Kennedy and Parsons are lawyers; Parsons is much younger than Kennedy.
"You couldn't make it as a lawyer," Kennedy shouted to Parsons.
"You're a hack," Parsons replied.
Later on, Kennedy said, "Have you ever been in a courtroom, Andrew? Have you ever been in a courtroom?"
At one point, Parsons took a shot at Kennedy's failed attempt to get elected in the 2006 byelection in the district of Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi.
"I got in the first time," Parsons taunted.
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This is a corrected version.