Nfld. & Labrador

Premier casts doubt on political future of Perry Trimper, after 'troubling' homelessness comments

Andrew Furey says Liberal MHA Perry Trimper is likely reconsidering his candidacy in the district of Lake Melville.

Andrew Furey says Trimper's comments were inappropriate

Premier Andrew Furey says Liberal MHA Perry Trimper's comments about homeless people in Happy Valley-Goose Bay were troubling and inappropriate. (Mark Quinn/CBC)

Premier Andrew Furey has cast uncertainty over the political future of Perry Trimper, saying Trimper is likely reconsidering his role as Liberal MHA for the district of Lake Melville.

Trimper is the party's confirmed candidate for the district, "but I'm sure he's reflecting upon it himself," Furey said to reporters Thursday.

Furey also called Trimper's recent comments toward homeless people in the town of Happy Valley-Goose Bay "troubling." 

In an interview with CBC News on Tuesday, Trimper said people who are homeless are "choosing" a risky lifestyle, and putting themselves and the community at risk. Trimper was commenting on a recent incident caught on video in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, where a municipal enforcement officer arrested and handcuffed a homeless Inuk man and threw him to the ground.

Trimper has since apologized for his comment, saying he regrets using the word. 

Thursday marked Furey's first day sitting in the House of Assembly as an elected MHA, and in a scrum with reporters afterward, he said he had reviewed Trimper's comments and spoke with him. 

"I found those comments troubling, and the language that was selected was inappropriate," said Furey.

"We had a long discussion about the complex nature of homelessness and the multi-layers that drive it, particularly in this instance with respect to intergenerational trauma."

Trimper apologized for his most recent comments. It's the second time concerns have been raised over comments he has made toward marginalized groups. (CBC)

When asked if there will be any consequences for Trimper — who a year ago accidentally left a voicemail for Innu Nation staffer Dominic Rich in which Trimper said the organization was playing the "race card" — Furey said with Trimper's apology, and after speaking to his colleagues, the incident will be left where it stands for now. 

"But I'm still reflecting on the deep impact that language has," Furey said.

CBC News left messages for Trimper shortly after 6:30 p.m. Thursday evening requesting comment and to confirm if he will be running in the next general election. There has been no response. 

On Wednesday, PC MHA Lela Evans, who represents the Torngat Mountains district, said an election will decide whether Trimper should continue in the House of Assembly. 

When asked if she would vote for Trimper, Evans said, as a member of the PC party, no. As an Indigenous person, she said, also no. 

"I've been advocating for the solution, so I wouldn't vote for him," she said. 

Step down, says chief of Sheshatshiu First Nation

Meanwhile, Eugene Hart, chief of the Sheshatshiu Innu First Nation, said Trimper should step down. 

"That's my personal opinion, because the first time he came out was about the Innu. Now all of a sudden there's a second [incident] and it's all over the media," Hart told CBC News on Friday.

Eugene Hart, chief of Sheshatshiu Innu First Nation, says Trimper should step down.  (Garrett Barry/CBC)

"He even said it himself, he apologizes again. So I don't know how many apologies he's going to do before he finishes his term." 

Hart questioned whether Trimper is actually doing his job, and said he hasn't had a good relationship with Trimper since the incident a year ago.

"It's still stuck in me. It's always going to be there if I'm no longer a leader," he said. 

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Mark Quinn and Garrett Barry