Nfld. & Labrador

Cabinet minister seeks out Liberal leakers with email to MHAs

Just hours after the premier denied knowing about a harassment complaint against one of his caucus members, Dale Kirby sent an email to Liberal MHAs seeking out the complainants.

Allegations of harassment and bullying in caucus are beginning to leak outside the walls of government

Dale Kirby sent this email to Liberal MHAs after opposition leader Paul Davis asked about rumours of harassment and bullying in the House of Assembly. (CBC)

Just hours after Premier Dwight Ball denied knowing about a harassment complaint against one of his caucus members, Education Minister Dale Kirby sent an email to Liberal MHAs seeking out the complainants.

Kirby urged those who broke ranks and spoke to PC Leader Paul Davis about the issue to come forward.

CBC News has obtained a copy of the email that was circulated.

"If someone in the caucus actually planted these harassment allegations with Paul Davis or any other Opposition MHA, the person or persons have a moral obligation to reveal this to the rest of us," he wrote.

Ball had been asked by Paul Davis during question period Tuesday if he was aware of any harassment complaints. He answered "no" and reiterated that response in a scrum outside the legislature with reporters. 

Dale Kirby sent this email to Liberal MHAs on Tuesday night, seeking out the person or persons who spoke of harassment allegations with PC leader Paul Davis. (Submitted)

In his letter to MHAs, Kirby also said, "There is no greater violation of trust!"

Several Liberal MHAs who agreed to speak with CBC on the condition they would not be identified were furious about the email, saying it's indicative of the type of ongoing intimidation they are facing.

"Rather than deal with the issue, they send this email," one said.

Kirby ended his brief note by saying, "I am very saddened and disillusioned about this."

'It's very frustrating'

The letter, and the harassment complaint, both came up during and after question period Wednesday as Davis and Kirby went back and forth on the matter.

"These are extremely serious allegations that the leader of the PC party has dragged into the House of Assembly yesterday, clearly trying to make it political," Kirby said in response to a question that Davis put to Ball, about whether Kirby's letter represented a violation of trust.

Kirby said that Davis had, by his own admission, sat on information about potential harassment for two weeks.

"I find that particularly despicable since he is a former police constable himself," Kirby said.

Davis replied that he had asked questions on Tuesday, not made allegations, and contended that Kirby was more interested in find out who had made a claim of harassment than in providing support to the claimant.

Education Minister Dale Kirby told reporters he was frustrated to see harassment allegations revealed in the House of Assembly, rather than through the established channels for handling complaints. (Gary Locke/CBC)

Kirby told reporters that his email had been sent out of frustration with the way a claim of harassment had been handled.

"It's very frustrating to have this emerge on the floor during question period rather than through the normal process," Kirby said.

The premier has been clear throughout the process that any concerns or questions can come to him immediately, Kirby said, adding that the message is consistent behind closed doors.

"If there are genuine complaints regarding bullying or harassment of intimidation or otherwise, it really needs to be reported and investigated immediately."

About the Author

Fred Hutton

CBC News

Fred Hutton co-hosts the St. John's Morning Show, and contributes to Here & Now and CBC N.L.'s digital platforms.