House fires Neville

Dave Bartlett
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Former child and youth advocate calls dismissal 'wrong'

The House of Assembly closed for its Christmas break Monday, but not before giving Darlene Neville a proverbial lump of coal.

MHAs voted along party lines to fire Neville as the province's child and youth advocate.

All five opposition members voted against the motion. The 38 government MHAs present at the time voted in favour.

Former child and youth advocate Darlene Neville speaks to the media outside the House of Assembly following her dismissal by government Monday afternoon as her lawyer Bern Coffey looks on. - Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram

The House of Assembly closed for its Christmas break Monday, but not before giving Darlene Neville a proverbial lump of coal.

MHAs voted along party lines to fire Neville as the province's child and youth advocate.

All five opposition members voted against the motion. The 38 government MHAs present at the time voted in favour.

After the vote, Neville and her lawyer Bern Coffey spoke to reporters in the Lobby of Confederation Building.

"What has happened here is wrong," Neville said.

"Since Day 1, I've had nothing but an incredible, uphill battle just to be able to do the job required."

Neville said the government decided it didn't want her as advocate but, in particular, didn't want her investigating the mental health ward at the Janeway Children's Hospital and a fatal fire in Labrador.

Coffey said Neville should have been given the right to be heard.

"The only logical inference that I can draw is that they were afraid to have her be heard by the public," he said.

Coffey said if Neville was given that chance it "would be readily apparent that her conduct was appropriate and it certainly was not misconduct."

"I haven't engaged in any misconduct," agreed Neville, who was suspended with pay in August after months of accusations, investigations, complaints and counter-complaints between Neville, the Speaker of the House Roger Fitzgerald, Citizens' Representative Barry Fleming, Neville's staff and senior bureaucrats.

As the House started its daily business Monday, Fitzgerald noted that last Thursday's debate was adjourned improperly, as Liberal Leader Yvonne Jones had the floor, and only she should have been able to ask for an adjournment.

It was government House leader Joan Burke who actually asked for the House to close for the day, which the Liberals opposed at the time.

Neville's dismissal was front and centre during question period, before the debate even resumed, with Jones asking Finance Minister Tom Marshall a number of questions about Neville and the allegations against her.

Jones also kept pressing government to hold an independent hearing into the matter.

She said the process to suspend Neville so far has been unfair and noted the total cost of retroactively giving former citizens' representative Fraser March a hearing has cost the taxpayers $188,000.

The Liberals also noted Neville's former secretary was removed from her job in August and has yet to be recalled or reassigned to a new job within the public service.

As the debate on Neville's dismissal resumed, Jones brought up several of these points again.

After she finished her statement, Health Minister Jerome Kennedy stood and painted a picture of Neville which suggested she was paranoid.

"Every time Ms. Neville comes into conflict with someone, we either end up (with) her questioning or impugning their motives or taking them to court," he said.

"Meanwhile, while all this is going on, who's looking after the children of this province?"

He summarized Neville's 92-page submission to cabinet in her defence as "everyone is conspiring against Darlene Neville. Everyone is lying about her. Everyone is making stories up."

Kennedy said the notion that everyone from the Speaker of the House, to an independent adjudicator, to the chief justice of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador is out to get her "defies common sense."

When Kennedy finished, NDP Leader Lorraine Michael said Neville's track record shows she cares for the children of this province.

Michael went on to say the process to remove Neville has not included a fair public hearing of her case.

"Listen colleagues, there is something wrong here," Michael said, her voice rising with emotion.

"And I can't understand that you don't see it, and I think some of you do see it," she added, looking across the floor at the government members.

"I am ashamed to be in this House as we vote for this resolution today, because I'm not voting for it," Michael ended.

Marshall then closed debate by saying even Neville called the mess in her office a poisonous workplace.

"She did blame other people, but she failed to take responsibility. She failed to deal with the issue herself," he said.

After the vote, Marshall spoke with reporters.

He reiterated that the House isn't a court of law and has different rules, which were followed.

"Ms. Neville was told the reasons for her dismissal. She was invited to give a response and she provided a 92-page brief. She has been heard," Marshall said.

dbartlett@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Janeway Children's Hospital, Citizens', Supreme Court

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador

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Recent comments

  • L
    July 02, 2010 - 13:35

    Whatever she did or did not do, I feel for Ms. Neville. Nobody deserves to be publicly shamed to the degree that she has.

    We love to see people fall. If she had been doing an amazing job and blazing new trails for CYPS, we never would have heard about it.

  • Frank M
    July 02, 2010 - 13:33

    She was appointed by the House of Assembly and she was fired by the House of Assembly.

    Great vetting job done there.

    Civil litigation next. Settlement with taxpayer dollars.

    The House of Assembly should use corporate headhunters.

  • TaxWatch
    July 02, 2010 - 13:31

    Any Officer reporting to the Speaker of the HOA should have the right to make a verbal and written presentation to the HOA (jury) before the sentence is handed down. Isn't this what our court system allows for criminals?

    I use to have respect for Minister Marshall and Minister Kennedy; not anymore.

    Marshall could only provide vague and general administrative issues that seems to be the result of a backstabbing staff and the speaker falling for it, for whatever reason(s)? An Indepentent PROFESSIONAL MANAGEMENT CONSULTANT should have been contracted to assess the problems and provide recommendations. Marshall sounded and looked very sheepish, as he was ordered to do what he could not support.

    Minister Kennedy stated after reviewing Darlene Neville's written report, how come Darlene Neville is right and everyone else is wrong, like this couldn't be so. Minister Kennedy as a lawyer should know that in NL and Canada we have many individuals are now walking the streets who were WRONGFULLY sentenced for crime they did not commit. All these individuals were stating they were correct (innocent) while all the officials were in agreement that those charged individuals were all guilty.

    The HOA wanted to tell Darlene Neville on Thursday, YOU RE FIRED in Donald Trump style, but could only offer you're and had to break for XMAS drinks at the expense of taxpayers, and return on Monday to deliver fired .

    Sad situation ~!

  • W
    July 02, 2010 - 13:31

    You need to read the documents submitted to understand the situation folks. From what I read and saw, the office has a couple of workers who think they are/were boss over Neville and for some reason govt backed them. I will venture to guess why, perhaps one of the 2 workers is personally connected to a high ranking politician and provides off the record info. OR the power of subpeno that CYFS just got approved was gonna subpeno some politicians and shed some negative light on the mental health support in this province. Or lastly, Neville was incompetent, but I somehow dowubt she would get fired over this, alot of people and bureaucrats would be worried about that.

  • Amanda
    July 02, 2010 - 13:28

    This is nothing but a cover up, government didn't want Darlene Neville to investigate cases and bring out issues with CYFS. They say they are concerned about kids of this province but yet they are the ones that have a Corrupt CYFS sustem and they are the ones that are failing the children of this province by allowing the abuse and neglect by CYFS to happen. Children who are in need of care don't even get it & when Darlene Neville goes and investigates a case such as the mental health one she gets fired by helping the children in need of help. Its time for government to stop covering up their mistakes and start helping the children who are in need of protection. Our CYFS system is that bad that they created a dept but yet we still don't see any improvements into the system so why keep all them in jobs if they are not doing anything? They fired Darlene Neville who was doing her job and yet they keep these people in jobs at our tax paying dollars it makes no sense!

  • Huh?
    July 02, 2010 - 13:26

    'Every time Ms. Neville comes into conflict with someone, we either end up (with) her questioning or impugning their motives or taking them to court.' Isn't that Danny's M.O.. But it does seem strange that Neville is at the center of these conflicts and I'm no conspiracy buff.

  • Bruce
    July 02, 2010 - 13:26

    '...the total cost of retroactively giving former citizens' representative Fraser March a hearing has cost the taxpayers $188,000.' You've got to be kidding me, and they wouldn't even afford Darlene to speak for herself.

    Meanwhile, while all this is going on, who's looking after the children of this province? - Health Minister Jerome Kennedy. Well, Mr. Kennedy who sacked Darlene ? Who sacked her secretary ? Who is now the one in charge of this office and in charge to staff it appropriately ? Gee... I think that might be you. As a Health Minister you sure don't seem to have much compassion for people, or children for that matter.

  • Trevor
    July 02, 2010 - 13:26

    I think she has been heard by her 92 page response. She didn't want to take blame for anything but to blame her own office for her mess. I think the right think was done here and should have been done from day one. She should have to pay back the money she has been getting since she lefted office. She made her bed now she can have a god sleep in it.

  • Lori
    July 02, 2010 - 13:22

    I have found this entire situation to be very confusing.

    But having dealt with social workers for my entire teaching career, I do believe that there is a systemic problem with the social workers in this province. They really do NOT want to protect the children... too much paper work. I think Ms. Neville was motivated to clean up from within the system and because of the dirty politics that the governing party seems to be entrenched in, she was an easy target for yet another case of bullying by the biggest bully of them all.

  • Perplexed
    July 02, 2010 - 13:22

    Ms. Neville is looking for fair treatment!!Isn't that a bit of an oxymoron. Didn't she get the job in the first place because she was politically appointed. If things were done fairly she would've had to go through the interview process and there's a good chance she wouldn't have gotten the job to begin with.

  • Boyd
    July 02, 2010 - 13:21

    Danny's Court and Danny's Jury, Mr. Marshal youre better than this, you are crawling in the hole with the rest of them. Too bad Danny can't provide the jury for the Federal Government and the Quebec disputes; maybe he would win there also?

  • GAR
    July 02, 2010 - 13:20

    Darlene Neville may very well have walked into 'the workplace from hell'
    from day one. All it takes is a few workers who are used to doing things 'their way' and they'll have the knives out for anyone who dares to question decisions they've taken previously. The fire in Labrador that killed two children. Ms. Neville's staff decided not to investigate that matter and did not inform Ms. Neville. Ms. Neville had a problem with that and the Gov't. had a problem with Ms. Neville having a problem with that ? Something surely stinks here.

  • Bones 3
    July 02, 2010 - 13:20

    'She did blame other people, but she failed to take responsibility. She failed to deal with the issue herself,' Marshal said. He reiterated that the House isn't a court of law and has different rules, which were followed.

    Mr. Marshal, Darlene DID deal with the issue herself. She had the courage to speak up by herself and you never listened. You still refused to listen to her at the hearing. It is YOU Mr. Marshal, and the rest of the House of Assembly who have failed to deal with this issue in a fair and unbiased way. Don't worry Mr. Marshal we Newfoundlanders FULLY UNDERSTAND THAT THE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY 'ISN'T A COURT OF LAW AND HAS DIFFERENT RULES'. This is evident in the ongoing scandals of massive thefts and frauds committed by the 'honourable' members. This is evident in voting to give yourselves handsome pay increases while horrible economic hardships are felt throughout this province. We Newfoundlanders know that law and legality, justice and fairness are not the hallmarks of Newfoundland's House of Assembly. It'll be a long time before we forget this Mr. Marshal, maybe you've forgotten about it based on your selection of words, but we haven't. What you've done to Darlene, how you've done it and when, is just another example of how corrupt 'the House' is.

  • Trevor
    July 02, 2010 - 13:18

    To Bruce

    This is why she is out of a job right now cause she wasn't doing her job looking after the children she was to busy trying to make her self look good. But the looks of things it don't look like her secretary wasn't doing much other then fellowing Ms. Neville every where on tv.

  • Paul
    July 02, 2010 - 13:16

    this looks like a scene from the Roman times when Caesar gives the thumbs down and the victim is thrown to the lions. To publically humiliate an individual is irrephensible How can we attract competent people to do these high level administrative jobs. The next stop for Ms Neville is court and then a hefty settllement compliments of the tax payers. Good Luck to her and hold your head high.

  • Kev
    July 02, 2010 - 13:16

    Verdict first, trial later.

  • PublicServant
    July 02, 2010 - 13:10

    A full year went by while one or two employees made complaints about Ms. Neville behind her back to the PSC and the Speaker of the House of Assembly. For that whole year, she was not advised about the complaints. How can these employees take no responsibility for contributing to the poisoned work environment as they continued for a full year undermining their boss? Why were they not willing to put their complaints in writing? These circumstances were further mismanaged by the Speaker of the House of Assembly and he is the one who should be removed. He has contributed significantly to bringing the Office of the Citizens Representative and the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate into disrepute by his own mismanagement.

  • Ivy
    July 02, 2010 - 13:09

    This is pure and simple politics. I think that if Ms. Neville had not become directly involved in this case after a personal call from Ms. Jones, Liberal Leader, there what not have been a question as to her ability to get along with staff. Danny's rule, do as I say, not as I do.

  • Doug
    July 02, 2010 - 13:08

    This is mainly just for show. Neville will ride off with a fat severance similar to the one the weasels at Eastern Health did when they were canned for the breast cancer screening fiasco.

  • William
    July 02, 2010 - 13:08

    From what was in the news since all this started a few months back, The blame was always been on Ms Neville with political fact to back it, and all that we seen from her was stone throwing with nothing to back her fact. It was her say to investigate the fatal fire in Labrador, but she didnt, so lets say that she had did some good while she was in office to that point, after that it just dont matter any more, so even if she do win her case, what benefit is she for the kids. Time for her to move on and rebuild her rep.

  • L
    July 01, 2010 - 20:25

    Whatever she did or did not do, I feel for Ms. Neville. Nobody deserves to be publicly shamed to the degree that she has.

    We love to see people fall. If she had been doing an amazing job and blazing new trails for CYPS, we never would have heard about it.

  • Frank M
    July 01, 2010 - 20:22

    She was appointed by the House of Assembly and she was fired by the House of Assembly.

    Great vetting job done there.

    Civil litigation next. Settlement with taxpayer dollars.

    The House of Assembly should use corporate headhunters.

  • TaxWatch
    July 01, 2010 - 20:19

    Any Officer reporting to the Speaker of the HOA should have the right to make a verbal and written presentation to the HOA (jury) before the sentence is handed down. Isn't this what our court system allows for criminals?

    I use to have respect for Minister Marshall and Minister Kennedy; not anymore.

    Marshall could only provide vague and general administrative issues that seems to be the result of a backstabbing staff and the speaker falling for it, for whatever reason(s)? An Indepentent PROFESSIONAL MANAGEMENT CONSULTANT should have been contracted to assess the problems and provide recommendations. Marshall sounded and looked very sheepish, as he was ordered to do what he could not support.

    Minister Kennedy stated after reviewing Darlene Neville's written report, how come Darlene Neville is right and everyone else is wrong, like this couldn't be so. Minister Kennedy as a lawyer should know that in NL and Canada we have many individuals are now walking the streets who were WRONGFULLY sentenced for crime they did not commit. All these individuals were stating they were correct (innocent) while all the officials were in agreement that those charged individuals were all guilty.

    The HOA wanted to tell Darlene Neville on Thursday, YOU RE FIRED in Donald Trump style, but could only offer you're and had to break for XMAS drinks at the expense of taxpayers, and return on Monday to deliver fired .

    Sad situation ~!

  • W
    July 01, 2010 - 20:19

    You need to read the documents submitted to understand the situation folks. From what I read and saw, the office has a couple of workers who think they are/were boss over Neville and for some reason govt backed them. I will venture to guess why, perhaps one of the 2 workers is personally connected to a high ranking politician and provides off the record info. OR the power of subpeno that CYFS just got approved was gonna subpeno some politicians and shed some negative light on the mental health support in this province. Or lastly, Neville was incompetent, but I somehow dowubt she would get fired over this, alot of people and bureaucrats would be worried about that.

  • Amanda
    July 01, 2010 - 20:16

    This is nothing but a cover up, government didn't want Darlene Neville to investigate cases and bring out issues with CYFS. They say they are concerned about kids of this province but yet they are the ones that have a Corrupt CYFS sustem and they are the ones that are failing the children of this province by allowing the abuse and neglect by CYFS to happen. Children who are in need of care don't even get it & when Darlene Neville goes and investigates a case such as the mental health one she gets fired by helping the children in need of help. Its time for government to stop covering up their mistakes and start helping the children who are in need of protection. Our CYFS system is that bad that they created a dept but yet we still don't see any improvements into the system so why keep all them in jobs if they are not doing anything? They fired Darlene Neville who was doing her job and yet they keep these people in jobs at our tax paying dollars it makes no sense!

  • Huh?
    July 01, 2010 - 20:14

    'Every time Ms. Neville comes into conflict with someone, we either end up (with) her questioning or impugning their motives or taking them to court.' Isn't that Danny's M.O.. But it does seem strange that Neville is at the center of these conflicts and I'm no conspiracy buff.

  • Bruce
    July 01, 2010 - 20:13

    '...the total cost of retroactively giving former citizens' representative Fraser March a hearing has cost the taxpayers $188,000.' You've got to be kidding me, and they wouldn't even afford Darlene to speak for herself.

    Meanwhile, while all this is going on, who's looking after the children of this province? - Health Minister Jerome Kennedy. Well, Mr. Kennedy who sacked Darlene ? Who sacked her secretary ? Who is now the one in charge of this office and in charge to staff it appropriately ? Gee... I think that might be you. As a Health Minister you sure don't seem to have much compassion for people, or children for that matter.

  • Trevor
    July 01, 2010 - 20:13

    I think she has been heard by her 92 page response. She didn't want to take blame for anything but to blame her own office for her mess. I think the right think was done here and should have been done from day one. She should have to pay back the money she has been getting since she lefted office. She made her bed now she can have a god sleep in it.

  • Lori
    July 01, 2010 - 20:07

    I have found this entire situation to be very confusing.

    But having dealt with social workers for my entire teaching career, I do believe that there is a systemic problem with the social workers in this province. They really do NOT want to protect the children... too much paper work. I think Ms. Neville was motivated to clean up from within the system and because of the dirty politics that the governing party seems to be entrenched in, she was an easy target for yet another case of bullying by the biggest bully of them all.

  • Perplexed
    July 01, 2010 - 20:06

    Ms. Neville is looking for fair treatment!!Isn't that a bit of an oxymoron. Didn't she get the job in the first place because she was politically appointed. If things were done fairly she would've had to go through the interview process and there's a good chance she wouldn't have gotten the job to begin with.

  • Boyd
    July 01, 2010 - 20:05

    Danny's Court and Danny's Jury, Mr. Marshal youre better than this, you are crawling in the hole with the rest of them. Too bad Danny can't provide the jury for the Federal Government and the Quebec disputes; maybe he would win there also?

  • GAR
    July 01, 2010 - 20:03

    Darlene Neville may very well have walked into 'the workplace from hell'
    from day one. All it takes is a few workers who are used to doing things 'their way' and they'll have the knives out for anyone who dares to question decisions they've taken previously. The fire in Labrador that killed two children. Ms. Neville's staff decided not to investigate that matter and did not inform Ms. Neville. Ms. Neville had a problem with that and the Gov't. had a problem with Ms. Neville having a problem with that ? Something surely stinks here.

  • Bones 3
    July 01, 2010 - 20:02

    'She did blame other people, but she failed to take responsibility. She failed to deal with the issue herself,' Marshal said. He reiterated that the House isn't a court of law and has different rules, which were followed.

    Mr. Marshal, Darlene DID deal with the issue herself. She had the courage to speak up by herself and you never listened. You still refused to listen to her at the hearing. It is YOU Mr. Marshal, and the rest of the House of Assembly who have failed to deal with this issue in a fair and unbiased way. Don't worry Mr. Marshal we Newfoundlanders FULLY UNDERSTAND THAT THE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY 'ISN'T A COURT OF LAW AND HAS DIFFERENT RULES'. This is evident in the ongoing scandals of massive thefts and frauds committed by the 'honourable' members. This is evident in voting to give yourselves handsome pay increases while horrible economic hardships are felt throughout this province. We Newfoundlanders know that law and legality, justice and fairness are not the hallmarks of Newfoundland's House of Assembly. It'll be a long time before we forget this Mr. Marshal, maybe you've forgotten about it based on your selection of words, but we haven't. What you've done to Darlene, how you've done it and when, is just another example of how corrupt 'the House' is.

  • Trevor
    July 01, 2010 - 20:00

    To Bruce

    This is why she is out of a job right now cause she wasn't doing her job looking after the children she was to busy trying to make her self look good. But the looks of things it don't look like her secretary wasn't doing much other then fellowing Ms. Neville every where on tv.

  • Paul
    July 01, 2010 - 19:57

    this looks like a scene from the Roman times when Caesar gives the thumbs down and the victim is thrown to the lions. To publically humiliate an individual is irrephensible How can we attract competent people to do these high level administrative jobs. The next stop for Ms Neville is court and then a hefty settllement compliments of the tax payers. Good Luck to her and hold your head high.

  • Kev
    July 01, 2010 - 19:55

    Verdict first, trial later.

  • PublicServant
    July 01, 2010 - 19:45

    A full year went by while one or two employees made complaints about Ms. Neville behind her back to the PSC and the Speaker of the House of Assembly. For that whole year, she was not advised about the complaints. How can these employees take no responsibility for contributing to the poisoned work environment as they continued for a full year undermining their boss? Why were they not willing to put their complaints in writing? These circumstances were further mismanaged by the Speaker of the House of Assembly and he is the one who should be removed. He has contributed significantly to bringing the Office of the Citizens Representative and the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate into disrepute by his own mismanagement.

  • Ivy
    July 01, 2010 - 19:44

    This is pure and simple politics. I think that if Ms. Neville had not become directly involved in this case after a personal call from Ms. Jones, Liberal Leader, there what not have been a question as to her ability to get along with staff. Danny's rule, do as I say, not as I do.

  • Doug
    July 01, 2010 - 19:43

    This is mainly just for show. Neville will ride off with a fat severance similar to the one the weasels at Eastern Health did when they were canned for the breast cancer screening fiasco.

  • William
    July 01, 2010 - 19:43

    From what was in the news since all this started a few months back, The blame was always been on Ms Neville with political fact to back it, and all that we seen from her was stone throwing with nothing to back her fact. It was her say to investigate the fatal fire in Labrador, but she didnt, so lets say that she had did some good while she was in office to that point, after that it just dont matter any more, so even if she do win her case, what benefit is she for the kids. Time for her to move on and rebuild her rep.