Premier Rodney MacDonald says he should have asked more questions about a recent car accident that cost his human resources minister his job.

He says he was told twice about the car accident, but never pressed for details.

MLA Ernie Fage says he told the premier he was involved in a minor accident. ((Courtesy David Gamble))

Ernie Fage, MLA for Cumberland North, resigned from cabinet last Thursday after witnesses told CBC News he left a Nov. 24 accident scene before police arrived, and smelled of alcohol.

When announcing Fage's resignation, the premier said all he knew about the matterwas that Fage told him he had been in a minor car accident on Nov. 24 in Halifax.

But on Monday, he told reporters he first heard of the accident on Dec. 4 through his chief of staff, Bob Chisholm, andsaid Fage told him about it on Dec. 16.

Looking back now, the premier said he should have asked more questions and that he was "very disappointed" with what unfolded.


The black Jetta is a government vehicle. ((Courtesy of David Gamble))

"This is not a good thing for any of my colleagues, certainly," MacDonald said. "We're very disappointed and, quite frankly, embarrassed to some degree."

Fage is payingfor the damage to his government vehicle, the premier added.

Not welcome back

MacDonald said Fage won't be welcome back in any cabinet he forms in the future.

The premier returned Fage to cabinet after last June's provincial election, despite the factFage had already resigned once before over a conflict of interest involving a government loan.

The opposition has been demanding answers from MacDonald about what he knew and when about the car accident.

Though the premier says he acteddecisively afterhearing the media reports, NDP LeaderDarrell Dexter disagrees.

"We have seen very little that has been proactive coming out of the premier's office and only a reaction when they had no other choice but to act, and that is simply not leadership," Dexter said Monday.

Dexter said Fage should face some sort of caucus sanction if he didn't tell the premier the whole story, which couldinclude a suspension from caucus orgetting kicked out permanently.

Fage has said he won't comment on the allegations while police investigate.

Police step up investigation

Halifax police Chief Frank Beazley said police handled the case properly, but he has sent thefile on to a special accident unit to deal with it quickly.

"This is a property-damage car accident that would take, under normal circumstances, six weeks to two months to do," Beazley told reporters Monday.

The police chief also said there was no political interference in the case.

Beazleysaid it'll be up to the investigators and the Crown prosecutor to decide what, if any, charges will be laid.