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Cathy Bennett to resign as MHA from Newfoundland and Labrador legislature

Liberal MHA Cathy Bennett has resigned her seat in the House of Assembly.
Liberal MHA Cathy Bennett has resigned her seat in the House of Assembly. - -File photo

Former finance minister will quit seat in House of Assembly effective Aug. 21; byelection to be called within 60 days

Liberal MHA for Windsor Lake Cathy Bennett has decided to call it a career in politics, more than four years after first being elected.

Bennett made the statement late Monday afternoon through her Twitter account.

In a brief statement, Bennett says she has decided to return to private life.

“It has been a privilege to represent and work with and on behalf of the people of the District of Windsor Lake,” Bennett wrote.

“My commitment to you was to work hard with integrity. I’ve worked tirelessly to fulfill that promise. I remain committed to do everything I can to support our province.”

Bennett declined further comment on Monday evening when contacted by The Telegram.

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Bennett spoke with Premier Dwight Ball on Monday afternoon to inform him of her decision. In a statement, Ball thanked her for her years of service.

“I’m sending well wishes to you and your wonderful family as you return to private life,” Ball wrote on Twitter.

Progressive Conservative Leader Ches Crosbie also thanked Bennett for her service.

Monday spokesperson for Crosbie would neither confirm nor deny whether he intends to run in the upcoming byelection. Previously, Crosbie has stated his intention to run in a St. John’s area byelection, should one be called before the 2019 provincial election.

Tuesday morning, Crosbie announced his intentions to run in the byelection and called on Ball to call the byelection immediately. 

Provincial legislation requires the date of the byelection to be announced within 60 days of Bennett’s last day as a member of the House of Assembly.

Bennett was first elected to the House of Assembly in 2014, representing the former district of Virginia Waters. She was elected again in 2015, serving the new district of Windsor Lake.

She also ran against Ball in the 2013 Liberal leadership race.

She was heavily criticized after introducing the Liberals’ first budget after the party’s 2015 election win, introducing a collection of new taxes and fees. And on the heels of Budget 2016, she became a focus for public-sector unions in increasingly public disputes over ongoing contract negotiations.

In 2016, Bennett went public with a call against online bullying, calling out body shaming, sexist commentary and even death threats she received.

She stepped down from cabinet in July 2017 citing “numerous personal reasons,” but later attributing the decision to — at least in part — some bullying she experienced at the hands of cabinet colleagues.

“I look forward to continuing to work for the people of Windsor Lake," she said at the time.

As bullying and harassment complaints were brought forward by other members of the House of Assembly, Bennett spoke publicly about her own experiences, saying she was the target of “bad behaviour.”

Before entering political life, she was CEO of the Bennett Group of Cos., including restaurants and other commercial businesses, human resources, construction and industrial supply businesses, and had served on the boards of publicly traded companies and non-profits.

david.maher@thetelegram.com

Twitter: DavidMaherNL

ashley.fitzpatrick@thetelegram.com

Twitter: TeleFitz

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