Liberal caucus holds rare Sunday meeting in wake of Joyce allegations
Premier not available for comment after 'very honest and frank discussion'
After a chaotic week fuelled by harassment allegations that ultimately saw MHA Eddie Joyce removed from cabinet and kicked out of caucus, Liberal MHAs gathered for a rare Sunday caucus meeting at Confederation Building.
They were called to the unusual meeting on Saturday by caucus chair Neil King, and the closed-door session lasted nearly two hours.
The meeting has adjourned. Premier Ball was present but not made available for comment. I talked to caucus chair MHA Neil King about what was discussed, including if the Liberal Party is taking harrassment seriously. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NLPoli?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NLPoli</a>. <a href="https://t.co/D78CQYwiR1">pic.twitter.com/D78CQYwiR1</a>—@andrewsampson_
Among the main topics of discussion: how the party will respond to future harassment concerns.
"We want to make sure that it gets investigated, that we put the procedures in place so people feel confident that they can come into the workplace and do their job properly without fear of bullying or harassment or anything else," said King.
He said party members resolved to ask that the province update the code of conduct for all MHAs.
Productive meeting, says King
Last week, Service N.L. Minister Sherry Gambin-Walsh was outed as the complainant against Eddie Joyce without her consent, but King said he believes the party is still a safe place for anonymous complaints to be taken seriously.
"Yes it is. As of Friday, the person who identified the complainant is now sitting as an independent pending an investigation from an external source," said King.
A Liberal caucus member previously told CBC that caucus meetings were a "joke" because people rarely spoke out about their concerns for fear of consequences.
"They certainly didn't have that problem tonight," said King.
"It was a very honest and frank discussion. That's all I can say. The purpose of caucus is you can go in and say what you want without reprisal. There was a lot of good conversation this evening, that's all I can say."
Optimistic party will be on same page
He added that no other complaints of harassment or bullying about Joyce came out during the meeting.
After a week when it seemed like Liberal MHAs weren't always on the same page — as evidenced by an email sent by Education Minister Dale Kirby asking those responsible for leaks to the Progressive Conservatives to step forward — King said he hopes this meeting serves to unify the party.
"It was very constructive. I look forward to our next meeting," he said.
Premier Dwight Ball attended the meeting but was not available for comment.
By late Sunday evening, requests sent to his communication staff by e-mail and phone had gone unanswered.