Nfld. & Labrador

Municipal Affairs Minister Eddie Joyce subject of harassment complaint

CBC News has learned that the Liberal MHA at the centre of a harassment complaint that has enveloped Confederation Building is Municipal Affairs Minister Eddie Joyce.

Multiple sources to CBC allege bullying by veteran MHA

CBC News has learned that Municipal Affairs and Environment Minister Eddie Joyce is the subject of a harrassment complaint from a fellow MHA. (Sherry Vivian/CBC)

CBC News has learned that the Liberal MHA at the centre of a harassment complaint that has enveloped Confederation Building is Municipal Affairs Minister Eddie Joyce.

As well, CBC News has learned that two MHAs — not just the one Liberal mentioned by Premier Dwight Ball while disclosing the complaint Wednesday — have raised concerns about Joyce's behaviour. 

The complaints deal with harassment and bullying, and line up with accounts from multiple sources to the CBC — from both sides of the House of Assembly — who are alleging inappropriate behaviour by Joyce, a veteran MHA who cut his political teeth decades ago in a more aggressive political climate. 

No members of the legislature are speaking on the record, fearing reprisals.

Caucus meetings 'a joke,' says Liberal

One Liberal member described caucus meetings as "a joke," adding that people don't speak out because they are afraid of what will happen to them.

CBC News has also learned that one issue was brought to the eighth floor of Confederation Building and dealt with by the premier's chief of staff, Greg Mercer.

In addition, CBC News has obtained documents regarding a similar complaint about Joyce. They show that the concerns were brought to the attention of Justice Minister Andrew Parsons through an email in the fall, and another to Elvis Loveless, another member of the premier's staff on the eighth floor.

Dwight Ball speaks Wednesday with reporters outside the House of Assembly. (Meghan McCabe/CBC)

The premier, who had told the House of Assembly only a day before that no complaints had been brought forward to him or his office, said the complaint was made Wednesday morning.

"We can work our way through this," said Ball, adding that he would be meeting with the MHA. "This is really uncharted waters for us." 

There's a lot of work that we will have to do, but I want to get at this as quickly as possible.- Dwight Ball

While answering reporters' questions earlier Wednesday, Ball used the pronoun "she" to refer to the MHA who is making the harassment complaint.

The premier declined to confirm whether the subject of the complaint is a cabinet minister, and whether the complaint was about a single incident or a pattern of behaviour.

Dwight Ball confirms an MHA has filed a harassment complaint. 9:26

"I think, right now, this is probably the level of detail that we would not want to get into," he said.

"There's a lot of work that we will have to do, but I want to get at this as quickly as possible, and … the person that lodged the complaint, we'll be keeping them involved every step of the way."

Ball says complaint will be dealt with quickly

Later, in question period, Ball likewise refused to identify the subject of the complaint, and said he was trying to avoid politicizing the incident.

Opposition Leader Paul Davis repeatedly asked Ball about the complaint, referring to the subject as a cabinet minister, and asking if the minister would be suspended. Ball said that hasn't happened — but didn't rule it out — and said the priority now is making sure the complainant is comfortable with the process.

"We will deal with this swiftly," Ball told the House of Assembly.

Meanwhile, Ball said he did not direct Education Minister Dale Kirby to send out an controversial email — a copy of which was obtained by CBC News — that declared anyone leaking information to the Opposition should feel obligated to step forward.

"There is no greater violation of trust," Kirby wrote.

The effort to find the source of the leak is reportedly going a step further, as MHAs have been directly asked who is leaking information to the CBC.

Davis asked the premier if caucus members would be asked to hand over their cellphones to determine who had passed information along, and Ball said that wouldn't be happening.

A spokesperson for the premier would not confirm Joyce is the subject of the complaint, and said Ball would not be making any further comment while the complaint is being investigated. Joyce did not respond Wednesday to repeated requests for comment.

With files from Meghan McCabe