Nfld. & Labrador

Furey calls Gambin-Walsh investigation 'disheartening,' won't say if she'll be back in cabinet

Premier said he is seeking advice over a police investigation into former cabinet minister Sherry Gambin-Walsh.

Premier says it's 'troubling' that cabinet confidence was broken

Premier Andrew Furey said the RCMP's report, which cleared Sherry Gambin-Walsh of criminal wrongdoing, is 'troubling and disheartening.' (Colleen Connors/CBC)

Premier Andrew Furey said he needs some time to think about whether he will let former Sherry Gambin-Walsh back into cabinet, after she was cleared of criminal charges in an RCMP probe.

Furey initialled released a one-line statement Wednesday evening, but answered questions from CBC's Colleen Connors while in Deer Lake on Friday morning. 

He repeated his description of the police report as "troubling and disheartening," adding that cabinet confidence was broken. 

When asked if he is going to allow her back into cabinet, Furey said no decision had been made. 

"Frankly, to be honest, I need a few days to reflect and seek some advice and discussions amongst our caucus and cabinet," he said Friday. 

Police found that Gambin-Walsh had disclosed cabinet documents to a friend at the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary.

Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Chief Joe Boland also put out a statement on Thursday, saying he made the complaint when he found out one of his officers — acting Insp. Paul Didham — was in receipt of cabinet information on police promotions before it had been made official.

"In the interests of ensuring independence, fairness, transparency and appropriate accountability, and in order to maintain public confidence in both the RNC and publicly elected officials, I requested an independent investigation into the incident with oversight by [Serious Incident Response Team NL]," Boland wrote.

Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Chief Joe Boland lodged a complaint when he found out one of his senior officers had information on the promotions of commissioned officers before cabinet consultations were finished. (CBC)

Didham was also cleared by the RCMP investigation. His status with the RNC is still in question, pending an internal review.

Gambin-Walsh said she is friends with Didham.

The RCMP said because nobody benefited from the information Gambin-Walsh gave him, it was unlikely to result in a conviction before the courts.

"It is important for my constituents to know that at no time did I try to influence the RNC promotional process, nor allow my friendship with the officer to influence my actions," she said.

Gambin-Walsh was removed from cabinet in April after the RCMP began investigating complaints that she leaked confidential information to a police officer. That investigation yielded no charges. (Katie Breen/CBC)

Gambin-Walsh was the minister responsible for Service NL and the Department of Children, Seniors and Social Development when the investigation was launched in April. The RNC falls under the Department of Justice and Public Safety.

She is still a member of the Liberal caucus and represents her district of Placentia-St. Mary's. 

Gambin-Walsh was a key player in the bullying and harassment review that rocked the Liberals in 2018, when she made a complaint against fellow former cabinet minister Eddie Joyce.

After being cleared of the allegations — but found in violation of the members' code of conduct for lobbying to have a friend hired for a job — Joyce made it clear he wouldn't return to the Liberals unless Gambin-Walsh was out.

According to Gambin-Walsh, she volunteered to remove herself from cabinet on April 3, when she was served with a search warrant by the RCMP to seize her phones.

Dwight Ball announced her departure the next day.

As minister responsible for Service NL, she was successful in overhauling the province's Residential Tenancies Act. 

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Mark Quinn

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