Harassment scandal: How the turbulence that ousted 2 cabinet ministers had roots months earlier
Following removal of Kirby and Joyce, Bennett says she left post due to bullying
The turmoil that has enveloped the Newfoundland and Labrador House of Assembly was set in motion months ago. This timeline shows the chain of events that led to two cabinet ministers being kicked out of cabinet and caucus.
Monday, July 31, 2017: Finance Minister Cathy Bennett resigns her cabinet position, citing "numerous personal reasons." Bennett, finance minister for two provincial budgets — including the 2016 cost-cutting budget that led to widespread protests — had previously complained about constant online threats, bullying and body-shaming.
Thursday, Oct. 19, 5:10 p.m.: Progressive Conservative MHA Tracey Perry sends an email to Municipal Affairs Minister Eddie Joyce to request a meeting "regarding ongoing concerns." Joyce responds to ask her to put the "concerns of your district" in writing so he will have the necessary documentation.
- 5:27 p.m.: Perry emails Justice Minister and Government House Leader Andrew Parsons to tell him she's requested a meeting with Joyce. "You said you have never seen me so upset, and you are correct. I am so tired of women being treated the way they are by 'a select few' and I am ready to stand up for us in the HOA if it becomes necessary," she wrote.
- 6:23 p.m.: Perry sends an email to Joyce regarding "the disrespectful manner you have been treating me with since I went to ask [Premier Dwight Ball's executive assistant] Elvis Loveless for assistance on a Municipal Affairs file that I was not getting any response on." Perry writes Joyce has "made it clear" he will not speak to her because she went to the premier. "I have zero tolerance for bullying, disrespect and vindictiveness," she writes.
Tuesday, April 24, 2018: In the House of Assembly, PC Leader Paul Davis asks Ball if any Liberal cabinet or caucus members have filed any harassment or bullying complaints. Ball says there have been no allegations.
- 6:45 p.m.: Education Minister Dale Kirby sends an email to Liberal MHAs demanding to know if any caucus member "planted these harassment allegations with Paul Davis or any other Opposition MHA," arguing that anyone who did so has a "moral obligation" to step forward. Later, whistleblower advocates would say Kirby's letter amounts to intimidation.
Wednesday, April 25: Ball says a complaint against a cabinet minister was filed with his office that morning by a fellow Liberal MHA. The premier doesn't identify either party involved, but by day's end CBC confirms the subject is Joyce.
Service NL Minister <a href="https://twitter.com/Sgambin?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Sgambin</a> takes a deep breath before coming forward as the MHA who lodged the complaint against Eddie Joyce <a href="https://t.co/Xd0NQ43zlq">https://t.co/Xd0NQ43zlq</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/nlpoli?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#nlpoli</a> <a href="https://t.co/FaU6WJG0Rn">pic.twitter.com/FaU6WJG0Rn</a>—@CBCNL
Thursday, April 26, 7:30 a.m.: Ball announces Joyce has been removed from cabinet while the complaint is investigated.
- 1:31 p.m.: Sherry Gambin-Walsh confirms she's the MHA who filed the complaint, adding she was coming forward because Joyce had put her name out as the complainant.
- 1:35 p.m.: Joyce denies any behaviour that could be seen as bullying. After citing Perry as an example of an Opposition MHA he has helped, he admits she complained about his behaviour in the fall.
- 3:48 p.m.: Perry says she will also be filing a formal complaint.
- 4:21 p.m.: Ball announces Joyce has also been kicked out of caucus.
Sunday, April 29, 7 p.m.: Liberal caucus summoned to rare Sunday meeting to discuss how to handle harassment complaints. MHAs are tight-lipped at the time about what was said inside.
Monday, April 30: Kirby is stripped of his cabinet position and kicked out of the Liberal caucus. Ball says complaints against Kirby had been made that morning.
Tuesday, May 1: Bennett tells CBC that she left her cabinet post because of bullying within cabinet and caucus, but declines to be specific. When asked if the premier bears any responsibility for the turmoil inside his cabinet and caucus, she says a leader's behaviour sets the tone for a group or organization.
- 11:40 a.m.: CBC News learns Harbour Grace-Port de Grave MHA Pam Parsons and Terra Nova MHA Colin Hollway have filed a complaint with the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary over the now-suspended Twitter account @WackjobNL. Pasrsons said she was concerned for her safety and the account "instilled fear" in her. Holloway speculated the owner of the account is someone close to the party and possibly within the Liberal caucus.
- 11:45 a.m.: CBC News learns that Dale Kirby, prior to being booted from cabinet and caucus, encouraged fellow MHAs to boycott a fundraising event organized by MHA Pam Parsons. Kirby made calls over the weekend asking people to skip the event. Kirby's decision to urge Liberals MHAS to not attend happened two days after fellow cabinet minister Eddie Joyce was removed from cabinet.
- 12:10 p.m.: CBC News learns Terra Nova Liberal MHA Colin Holloway has filed bullying and intimidation complaints against Joyce and Kirby, as well as Davis and NDP Leader Gerry Rogers, the latter two for comments they made about the Port Blandford issue.
- 2:30 p.m.: Ball told reporters outside the House of Assembly that there was "no bullying at the cabinet table" in response to questions about Bennett's departure from cabinet in July 2017. Ball said he would not resign in the wake of the multiple allegations of bullying and harassment, stating, "Leaders don't resign in challenging times."
Wednesday, May 2: CBC News reports that Jim Dinn, former leader of the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers' Association, had found Dale Kirby difficult to work with. Dinn says while he had differences with other ministers of education, "I think Minister Kirby was the first minister to refer to us as 'peddlers of ignorance' and result in that kind of personal attack or insult."
- 1:30 p.m.: Liberal cabinet ministers and MHAs pledge support for Premier Dwight Ball when questioned by reporters as they head into Question Period. Those that backed their leader include: Siobhan Coady, Andrew Parsons, Al Hawkins, Lisa Dempster, Tom Osborne, Neil King, Graham Letto, Jerry Dan, Mark Brown, Randy Edmunds and Christopher Mitchelmore.
- 3 p.m.: Fortune Bay–Cape La Hune MHA Tracey Perry introduces a private member's motion to create a legislative specific harassment policy. It is approved unanimously. Perry, who has said she faced harassment and intimidation from former minister Eddie Joyce, says she won't file an official complaint until the investigation is "completely independent of the government."
- 4:23 p.m.: House Speaker Perry Trimper says both Eddie Joyce and Dale Kirby requested, and were granted, personal leave
- 5 p.m.: Dale Kirby, who has not responded to requests for comment or spoken publicly since the allegations surfaced, and hung up on a CBC reporter earlier in the day, issues a statement that says he will not be speaking to the media while the investigation is underway. "While these allegations are not sexual or physical in nature, any assertion of workplace harassment should always be treated in a serious manner," he said in the release. "I am confident in the facts and that once the investigation is complete, my name will be completely cleared."
Thursday, May 3: Service NL Minister Sherry Gambin-Walsh confirms for CBC News that she plans to seek legal advice on a better course of action to deal with harassment complaints against former cabinet minister Eddie Joyce. She says she "still supports Premier Dwight Ball," but is "not comfortable with the way this process is moving forward."
- 2:15 p.m.: Justice Minister Andrew Parsons defends the current process in place for investigating complaints about MHAs. He says the Commissioner of Legislative Standards was appointed by all 40 members of the House, and leaders of each party spoke on record in favour of Bruce Chaulk's appointment.
With files from Meghan McCabe and Anthony Germain