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N.L. politician Eddie Joyce to sit as independent while complaint is reviewed

Eddie Joyce has had several complaints made about his behaviour, by Liberal MHAs.
Eddie Joyce has had several complaints made about his behaviour, by Liberal MHAs. - FILE

Liberal minister removed from cabinet and caucus while complaint is reviewed

At dawn, he was known as Liberal Municipal Affairs and Environment Minister Eddie Joyce.

By dusk, he was Eddie Joyce, Independent member for Bay of Islands, removed from both his ministerial role and the governing Liberal ranks, until complaints against him are investigated and brought to a resolution.

Details on that process have yet to be confirmed.

There were rapid developments at the House of Assembly throughout Thursday. It all extended from questions posed on Tuesday in question period by Progressive Conservative Leader Paul Davis, who asked both Premier Dwight Ball and minister Siobhan Coady if they were aware of any complaints of harassment or bullying filed against Liberal members.

A complaint was made to the premier the next morning. Details of that complaint have not been made public.

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The premier made its existence public though, speaking to reporters before the afternoon sitting of the House. He applauded the complainant for coming forward and committed to a full review.

In the House, PC and New Democratic Party members called for more details on what comes next, calling for a process independent of the government. They also asked Ball to remove the minister in question from their post. (Joyce had not yet been named.)

The complainant — now identified as Service NL Minister Sherry Gambin-Walsh — met with the premier that night to discuss the process ahead. Ball also spoke with Joyce.

On Thursday, before 9 a.m., the premier’s office issued a statement publicly naming Joyce as the minister who was the target of the complaint, saying he would not remain in his ministerial post while the related investigation was ongoing. Gambin-Walsh was, at that point, not named.

Shortly after mid-day, Gambin-Walsh spoke with reporters from CBC and NTV in the lobby of the Confederation Building, saying she was the complainant in the case, and adding she had been publicly named by Joyce.

In a separate exchange, Joyce was asked by the CBC if he was a bully, and if PC MHA Tracey Perry had ever made a complaint that he was a bully. According to the video available online, he described an exchange with Perry, wherein Perry had questioned his behaviour.

In the exchange with reporters, Joyce was also asked if he was aware if anyone other than Perry or Gambin-Walsh had made any complaints about his conduct. He said he wasn’t aware of any complaint by Perry.

  1. did not introduce Gambin-Walsh’s name, but also did not refute a reporter’s statement that Gambin-Walsh was a complainant.

All of this quickly made its way onto social media. Minutes later, it was referenced on the floor of the House.

“Now Mr. Speaker, just a few minutes ago, the very member who the allegations are made against, according to what I’m reading through CBC and on social media, has identified people who are making complaints publicly,” Davis said. “Are you OK with that, Premier?”

Ball was repeatedly asked about Joyce’s naming names.

NDP Leader Gerry Rogers called it a “vengeful tactic” and demanded a response from the premier.

“I ask the premier, what is he going to do about it immediately while this member is sitting in the House?” she said.

Ball pushed back against any immediate decisions, given he was receiving information secondhand.

The NDP called for a brief recess, to allow for a review of available information.

Liberal members responded by voting in favour of an adjournment until Monday, while Progressive Conservatives and New Democratic Party members, with Independent MHA Paul Lane, voted against.

House Leader Andrew Parsons told reporters there would be an expectation for a decision on Joyce’s standing immediately after any recess. The adjournment, he suggested, would allow for more time and an easing of tension.

Perry also agreed to speak with reporters after the adjournment. She said she would be filing a complaint against Joyce and would like to see her concerns as part of the same review being launched in response to Gambin-Walsh.

“In terms of the immediate issues I was dealing with, there had been some calming of that. They weren’t completely resolved,” she said. “But two weeks ago I became aware of some serious bullying incidents with some colleagues of mine and I have been greatly concerned ever since.”

Multiple members of the House, from all parties, have now spoken out about problems in their workplace. And Perry said she would be formalizing a complaint because she felt it was important to try to improve the political culture in Newfoundland and Labrador.

“What I certainly hope comes out of all of this is we create a new culture in politics where bullying is no longer tolerated toward any member of the House, from any party, be they male or female,” she said. “The problem still exists.”

She encouraged others to come forward with any outstanding issues, adding it would be best to have a third-party reviewer in place as soon as possible.

The premier then confirmed Joyce’s removal from the Liberal caucus. Ball said he has left the door open for reinstatement, pending the results of the investigations.

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