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PCs hint at harassment in Newfoundland and Labrador Liberal ranks

Progressive Conservative Leader Paul Davis speaks to reporters Tuesday outside the House of Assembly.
Progressive Conservative Leader Paul Davis speaks to reporters Tuesday outside the House of Assembly. - Ashley Fitzpatrick

Paul Davis asks obscure questions in House of Assembly, while not making direct allegation

There was a significant difference in the tone of question period in the House of Assembly Tuesday afternoon as Progressive Conservative Leader Paul Davis launched into a series of questions suggesting some kind of inappropriate activity within the Liberal ranks.

A direct allegation, or clear statement in accusation, never did materialize.

“The questions I ask are, what I believe to be, very important. I ask them with great seriousness, but I believe they need to be asked,” Davis said at the start of question period.

“Mr. Speaker, I ask the premier if he can confirm if any harassment or bullying-related complaints had been filed or made to his office by any member or members of his caucus or his cabinet,” he said.

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Premier Dwight Ball responded by referring to the seriousness of the topic of harassment and the new harassment policy for the public service.

“No, there have been no allegations that have come to me on any issue facing our caucus or cabinet members,” Ball said, later adding that complaints had also not come to his staff and he would know if they did.

Davis put the question of any complaint to Siobhan Coady as well, as she is the minister responsible for the status of women.

“I am not aware of any circumstance that has not been raised to me at all, privately or otherwise,” Coady said, “but I do encourage the member, if he’s aware of something that he needs to come forward with, I think he should do so.”

It remained unclear throughout the questioning what it was all about.

Both inside and outside the House of Assembly, Davis said he was not making any specific accusations.

He also said he would not bring anything directly to the minister or to the premier at this point.

In response to questions from reporters, Davis clarified that he received information “both directly and indirectly” of a problem involving a Liberal member of the House and a Liberal minister.

“It’s more about a way of doing business that’s unacceptable,” he said at one point, when asked to provide more information on the nature of the issue being raised.

“To me, it’s a series of events more than anything,” Davis said, making a reference to members trying to advocate on behalf of their districts.

Moving from vague to semi-specific, he told reporters there were two conflicting sets of information he had in hand. First, he pointed to the information he had received prior to his raising questions in the House. He said that included information on “a dispute resolution process” with a Liberal member objecting to actions of a fellow Liberal, with a review undertaken by senior staffers.

“The people who have (brought the issue forward) are not satisfied with the way it has been dealt with,” he said.

Davis said he had reviewed a document from the investigation.

But it all conflicts with the second set of information — with the premier and a minister responsible saying no such situation, dispute or dispute resolution process exists.

“There is an inconsistency in the information,” Davis summarized outside of the House.

The premier also took questions from reporters, saying he remains at a loss over the entire piece of business.

He called on the Opposition leader to speak with him further about it.

Ball said again no complaints, as Davis described them, had been brought to him or to his staff.

When asked what his next step would be if the PC leader did not come to him to speak further as requested, Ball asked, “How could he not?”

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