Paul Davis says feedback, concern prompted department name change

The premier of Newfoundland and Labrador says the changed name for a provincial department was prompted by feedback from people in the community, as well as to eliminate confusion about the importance of justice.

Premier wanted to clear up confusion about role of department, importance of justice

Premier Paul Davis says he wanted to eliminate any confusion about the role of what is now called the Department of Justice and Public Safety. (CBC)

The premier of Newfoundland and Labrador says the changed name for a provincial department was prompted by feedback from people in the community, as well as to eliminate confusion about the importance of justice.

Paul Davis named the former department of public safety, instead calling it the Department of Justice and Public Safety.

This name change came after feedback from some members of the legal community, who were concerned following the restructuring of the former justice department, as well as the new departmental name.

Davis said the decision announced on Friday to restore justice to the department's name was made in the days previous, after government had heard from people who were concerned this indicated a reduced focus on justice in the province.

I said I would listen to what people had to say and if we needed to make changes I would be willing to do that, and that's what I've done.- Premier Paul Davis

"There was some confusion — some people believed that we had eliminated, or in some way, minimized or reduced the focus on justice in our province, and that clearly was not the case and that's certainly not the impression we want to leave with people," he said.

Davis said he wanted to assure people that there was no reduced focus on justice, and to eliminate that confusion.

"The role of the department of justice had not changed. The role of the attorney general's office had not changed. We added fire emergency services, and wanted to put a focus on the safety of our public — the safety of people of the province," said Davis.

"To clear up that confusion, I said I would listen to what people had to say and if we needed to make changes I would be willing to do that, and that's what I've done."

Davis added he decided to change the department's name prior to a meeting with members of the Canadian Bar Association on Friday.

Public concerned about safety

Davis said the folding of justice in with Fire and Emergency Services was meant to bring together to roles of similar departments, creating what he thought would be a good mix to increase public safety.

"Throughout the last number of months, I've heard from people all around the province who felt that we needed to have a focus on safe communities and providing safe homes for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. We've seen a change in the types of crimes and the type of activities we've seen throughout communities, and people wanted to see that," said Davis.

Davis added he doesn't intend to force Judy Manning, who is the unelected minister of the department, to run in one of the upcoming byelections, instead allowing her to wait and run in Placentia-St. Mary's in the next general election as she originally intended.

"I'm not going to force her to run in a particular election, but we know that in the not-too-distant future, we have less than a year, before we're going to have a general election," he said.

"It's not without precedent having many, many months that cabinet ministers in place, right here in this province, before they run in a byelection and actually obtain a seat, so it's not completely without precedent."