Embattled MHA Dale Kirby avoiding questions, but says he's 'confident' investigation will clear name
Now-independent Mount Scio MHA says he won't speak to media until investigation complete
Mount Scio MHA Dale Kirby made it clear Wednesday he's not ready to answer questions about his behaviour as a cabinet minister and member of the Liberal caucus.
He also hasn't responded to a claim that he lobbied Liberal MHAs to boycott an upcoming fundraising event for Harbour Grace-Port de Grave Liberal MHA Pam Parsons.
On Wednesday evening, Kirby issued a statement and said he would not be speaking to the media while the investigation is underway.
"While these allegations are not sexual or physical in nature, any assertion of workplace harassment should always be treated in a serious manner," he said in the release.
"I am confident in the facts and that once the investigation is complete, my name will be completely cleared and I can continue my work for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador."
Kirby noted he didn't want to "distract from the good work being done by Premier Ball and the government."
'He's not in my caucus'
The embattled politician has not spoken publicly since last week, and has not been heard from since he was booted from cabinet and the Liberal government's caucus on Monday.
Everybody wants to talk with him, or is talking about him, but he's nowhere to be found.
He's gone silent on social media, including Twitter.
And when reached on his cellphone Wednesday morning, Kirby quickly ended the call without saying a word.
A knock on the door of his St. John's home Wednesday also went unanswered.
"I don't know. He's not in my caucus (anymore)," replied one Liberal MHA when asked about Kirby's whereabouts.
Another MHA said he did not witness any acts of harassment by Kirby, but is eager for an investigation to be concluded so the truth can be exposed.
Firestorm of controversy
Kirby and Bay of Islands MHA Eddie Joyce are at the centre of a firestorm of controversy that has rocked the Newfoundland and Labrador legislature in recent days.
Both have been accused of harassment by four other MHAs — not of a physical or sexual nature — and were ejected from Premier Dwight Ball's inner circle and the Liberal caucus after several days of sensational headlines and tense exchanges in the House of Assembly.
It was confirmed late Wednesday afternoon that the two, now relegated to independent status in the legislature, have been granted personal leave.
Kirby also raised eyebrows last week for sending an email in which he demanded the person who made a complaint against Joyce come forward, an act described by some political watchers as intimidation.
Kirby previously served as Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development, while Joyce was Minister of Municipal Affairs and Environment.
Joyce has refuted allegations of inappropriate behaviour, and was absent once again from the legislature on Wednesday.
But he wrote the following when asked for comment Wednesday from CBC News: "I won't be making any comments, as you can appreciate."
Meanwhile, sources have told CBC News that Kirby was encouraging Liberal MHAs to boycott a May 17 fundraising event for Pam Parsons in Bay Roberts.
None of the MHAs contacted Wednesday said they received any such pressure, though one said he now planned to attend the event in light of the controversy.