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Ousted N.L. cabinet minister Dale Kirby confident he will be cleared of harassment allegations

Dale Kirby
Dale Kirby - SaltWire Network

Kirby likes the process; MHA Tracey Perry uncomfortable with complaints process

Former Liberal cabinet minister Dale Kirby says he is “confident” his “name will be completely cleared” once an investigation into his conduct is completed.

Kirby broke his silence after being ousted from the Liberal caucus on April 30 after allegations of harassment were brought to the attention of Premier Dwight Ball.

Those allegations have been passed to Bruce Chaulk, the commissioner of legislative standards.

“As a publicly elected member, I take accusations of this nature very seriously and do not want them to distract from the good work being done by Premier Ball and the government,” Kirby said.

He says he welcomes the review and intends to co-operate with Chaulk’s investigation.

Opposition Leader Paul Davis tried to call that investigation into question during Wednesday’s sitting of the House of Assembly, but he was shut down by Speaker Perry Trimper.

Davis attempted to ask questions of Premier Dwight Ball about his involvement in the investigation, asking the premier to adjust the process to make it more independent of the government.

Trimper stepped in, noting that the commissioner of legislative standards is already independent of the premier.

The office is managed by the House of Assembly Management Commission — a committee of MHAs, chaired by Trimper, of which the premier is not a member.

According to Trimper, if Davis has questions about the process, the questions should be addressed to Trimper at a meeting of the House Management Commission — whose meetings are called at the pleasure of the chair.

The process in question was put in place following the Green report of 2007, when the MHA code of conduct was established.

Davis’s line of questioning was prompted by Tory MHA Tracey Perry, who, while holding up an envelope with her complaint inside, stood on the floor of the House of Assembly saying she was uncomfortable with the complaint process.

Perry says she hasn’t decided if she will file her complaint under the current system.

“We’re still hoping that we will be able to achieve consensus that there will be an independent process. We want to make sure that this is done and done right so that we never again have this type of situation,” Perry said.

The process established has seen complaints sent to the premier, who has sent them to the commissioner. Ball says the commissioner has free rein to investigate the complaints and is able to bring in outside support if need be. Once the investigations are done, the reports will be passed to the complainants, the target of the complaints and the premier.

The reports will not be automatically made public — it’s up to each MHA to decide whether the final report is released.

Ball says he would like to see the final reports all made public, but he will only release them if the complainants — Sherry Gambin-Walsh, Pam Parsons and Colin Holloway, so far — each give their consent to the reports being released.

Concerns about the process were discussed in scrums with reporters. On the floor of the House, MHAs unanimously approved a motion put forth by Tracey Perry that would see the House of Assembly adopt a harassment policy for MHAs similar to that used in Nova Scotia.

The most recent example of that process occurred over allegations against former Nova Scotia Tory Leader Jamie Baillie.

In that case, a complaint was anonymously received by the party, it was investigated discretely, and the results and consequences of the investigation were made public only when it was complete.

Such a process is a far cry from the leveling of allegations, outing of complainants, intimidating emails and public rhetoric seen since former Liberal cabinet minister Eddie Joyce was ousted from caucus on April 26.

In spite of it all, a parade of Liberal caucus members told reporters outside the House of Assembly that they still support Ball throughout this process, calling his actions swift and decisive.

A leadership review for Ball will take place at the Liberal party’s annual general meeting in Gander scheduled for June 15-16.

david.maher@thetelegram.com

Twitter: DavidMaherNL

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