UPDATE: Simms apologizes on Open Line for on-air blowup with Chief

On Tuesday Simms called chief ‘stupid’; Tshakapesh called Simms ‘racist’

Published on January 30, 2013

VOCM Open Line host Randy Simms offered an unqualified apology off the top of his show this morning for his blow-up Tuesday over Innu plans to continue hunting George River caribou in Labrador, despite a provincial ban.

Simms said he "broke his own rule" by attacking a guest personally, rather than sticking to the debate.

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(Earlier story)

VOCM Open Line host Randy Simms says he regrets how an exchange went Tuesday with Natuashish Innu Band Chief Simeon Tshakapesh, though he is unapologetic for his opinion on the topic that led to the debate.

The argument between the two began as a result of a statement made by Tshakapesh that he will continue to hunt George River caribou despite a five-year ban on the herd announced Monday by the provincial government. The ban came as a result of a drastic caribou population drop, but Tshakapesh has the support of Prote Poker, grand chief of the Innu Nation, who said the Innu people support conservation, but don’t support a total ban on hunting the herd and will not agree to it.

While talking to Tshakapesh on Open Line, Simms called both Tshakapesh and Poker “stupid” for saying they will continue to hunt a herd that is reportedly in so much trouble .

“I said you’re stupid and you are, you know that, right? I think this Prote Poker guy as well, also stupid,” Simms said to Tshakapesh on air.

From there the conversation deteriorated further with Simms telling the Innu chief “don’t be an idiot,” Tshakapesh calling Simms racist, and Simms eventually hanging up on him after the grand finale of calling the chief an “arsehole.”

When asked by The Telegram later that day if he regretted what had happened, Simms said he did.

“I do, actually. Because I violated my own rule. In going back and listening to it and everything else, I’m satisfied I violated my own rule.

“My rule has basically been that when I do these things, I do them in the form of a debate. A debate about issues. A debate about actions.

 

“That I would allow a conversation to descend into name-calling, and I was one of the principal name-callers ... I’m not very happy with myself about that,” Simms said.

Simms was clear not to confuse his remorse on the handling of the call with his lack thereof for his stance on Tshakapesh’s declaration to continue the hunt of the George River herd.

“That is not to say that I believe that the issue or that my position on the issue is incorrect. It is not,” he said.

“To say that you intend to hunt that herd is unbelievably over the top. I hold true to my position on that,” said Simms.

Simms said he let the situation get away from him.

“It’s not so much that I feel so strongly about that particular issue. It’s that I look at things that make no sense and I get a little passionate about that stuff, you know,” he said.

“Every now and again somebody will come up with something or will suggest something that is just off the wall, and you kinda label that and say, you know what, that action or that idea or that statement is stupid. And that’s one thing to say. I have no problem with that. But to then characterize the person as stupid? That’s not appropriate and I violated my own kind of code there and I intend to correct that.”

Simms said he will address what happened on the show this morning, but didn’t go so far as to say he will apologize to Tshakapesh.

An apology won’t be of any value as far as he’s concerned anyway, Tshakapesh told The Telegram.

“What I want is for him to be removed from VOCM.”

Tshakapesh went on to say that the incident with Simms was just an example of a bigger problem in Newfoundland and Labrador of the province having problems with the Innu Nation, but he sees this incident as a point of no return, and says the Innu Nation will make a stance.

“It’s too much. It’s too much,” said Tshakapesh. “There’s a provincial court here. I will be asking them to vacate our buildings.”

He added they will have to hold court in Natuashish somewhere else.  

There is a plan for Tshakapesh to fly to Happy Valley-Goose Bay at 7 a.m. this morning with Poker and all the other Innu leaders for a meeting in Sheshatshiu.

“There’s a big meeting gonna happen and something is going up. That’s all I can say. Idle No More movement is coming to Labrador, I guess.”

Tshakapesh also said he’s talking to his lawyers, along with the grand chief, about the argument with Simms.

Open Line airs at 9 a.m. on VOCM. Following Simms’ argument with Tshakapesh, another followed with another caller on the same issue. Both can be heard on youtube at www.youtube.com/watch?v=KtyfwIydeTE.

 

josh.pennell@thetelegram.com