Nfld. & Labrador

Perry Trimper to run as Independent in next election, resigns from Liberal caucus

The MHA for Lake Melville announced a couple of weeks ago he would not seek re-election, which came just days after he said homeless people were "choosing" a risky lifestyle.

This 'will allow me to speak freely,' says Trimper in announcing his candidacy in Facebook video

MHA Perry Trimper says running as an Independent will allow him 'to speak freely,' he said in a video posted Tuesday. (CBC)

Perry Trimper says he isn't done with politics after all — despite saying as much two weeks ago when he announced he wouldn't seek re-election in the next Newfoundland and Labrador election. 

He now says he is resigning from the Liberal caucus and plans to run as an Independent candidate for the district of Lake Melville in the next election, and isn't waiting until then to leave the Liberal Party. 

"While I appreciate the opportunity to have worked with the Liberal team, after much reflection, I will now represent the people of Lake Melville as an Independent member of the House of Assembly," Trimper said in a Facebook video posted late Tuesday afternoon. 

"At this time, I believe I can be more effective representing you in a manner that will allow me to speak freely and to expose the character assassination campaign being launched by my political opponents.

CBC News has tried to reach Trimper by phone for comment but has not yet heard back. 

Premier Andrew Furey — who was in Trimper's Labrador district meeting with members of Indigenous groups Tuesday — said he hopes to continue positive talks toward reconciliation.

"As I have said in the past, I was very troubled by recent statements made by the member for Lake Melville. The member has now made a decision to sit as an Independent," Furey said in a statement to CBC News.

Initial controversial comment

It was just a couple of weeks ago that Trimper announced he would not seek re-election and was withdrawing from some of his legislative duties.

Trimper had been blasted for his comments during an interview with CBC Radio's Labrador Morning, in which he said the homeless population in Happy Valley-Goose Bay was "choosing" a risky lifestyle.

His comments came in an interview in which he was asked about a video that showed a municipal enforcement officer in Happy Valley-Goose Bay throwing Joseph Tuglavina, a handcuffed homeless Inuk man, to the ground. 

Trimper said he regretted "using that word, understanding how some people have reacted to it," but the premier still cast doubt on Trimper's political future. 

While Furey initially told reporters that Trimper was the party's confirmed candidate for the district, he also told reporters, "I'm sure he's reflecting upon it himself," on Oct. 23.

On Oct. 28, Premier Andrew Furey said Trimper's political career was over. However, Trimper now plans to run as an Independent candidate for the Lake Melville district. (Mark Quinn/CBC)

Just a few days later, Trimper said this: "With progress and change comes challenge. I feel I have advanced the challenges before Lake Melville as far as I can take them at this time."

Furey insisted Trimper stepped down on his own accord. 

"He took the weekend to contemplate that and came to that decision … and I'm satisfied with that conclusion he came to," Furey said at the time. 

"I encouraged him to contemplate and reflect on where he was in life and with those comments, and more important reflect on the complexity of the issues, and he came to this conclusion by himself."

Innu Nation urged Furey to remove Trimper

Members of the Innu Nation continued to call for the removal of Lake Melville MHA Perry Trimper, highlighting what they called multiple instances of racism over the last year.

In a letter sent to the premier on Oct. 30, Deputy Grand Chief Mary Ann Nui said the Innu Nation felt "extreme disappointment" in Furey, who has said he will not remove Trimper from his caucus.

"Systemic racism causes great harm, and where harm has occurred and no action is not taken, it is perpetuated," Nui wrote.

"Individuals in positions of power and authority most particularly need to be held accountable, as without that accountability, it creates conditions within our government and social institutions that lead to the normalization of racism and that it is acceptable."

Trimper also resigned as the minister of municipal affairs and environment in September 2019, when he complained with a colleague on a voicemail that the Innu were playing "the race card."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador