Kyley Harris quits job as Liberal campaign communications director

Kyley Harris has stepped away from his role in the Liberal Party's provincial election campaign and his contract position with the Liberal caucus office.

Harris rehired in 2015 as Liberal caucus researcher after he was fired earlier that year

Kyley Harris was given a conditional discharge for the assault in March 2015. (Twitter)

The man Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil was defending a week ago has now offered his resignation as Liberal election campaign communications director.

Kyley Harris was given a conditional discharge for an assault on a woman three years ago.

"It is with regret I write to inform of my intention to step down from both my volunteer role in the Nova Scotia Liberal Party's 2017 provincial campaign team and my contract position with the Nova Scotia Liberal caucus office," wrote Harris in a letter addressed to Chris MacInnes, the Nova Scotia Liberal Party campaign chair for the 2017 provincial election campaign.

Harris trying to protect party

Harris struck a woman in the face when he was the premier's spokesperson and was later fired by Stephen McNeil for waiting to tell him about the incident. He was rehired in 2015 as a Liberal caucus researcher and has been with the party ever since. 

"Despite my efforts to make amends and move on from a mistake I made three years ago to the day, it is clear that is not possible in the current political climate," Harris's letter stated.

"While I can readily accept that I continue to be punished for my actions on that night in 2014, I will not allow my colleagues, this organization or its leader Stephen McNeil to bear that burden any longer."

Premier defended Harris

Last week, federal Conservative Leader Rona Ambrose stated in a Facebook post that Harris's appointment as the campaign communications director "sends a terrible" message.

One day later McNeil said Harris deserved a "second chance."

"This morning, Kyley Harris voluntarily offered to step away from the campaign," said campaign director Michael Mercer. "The Liberal Party of Nova Scotia accepted and Mr. Harris is no longer working on the Liberal campaign."

Leaders respond

At a campaign stop Tuesday morning in Halifax, McNeil said Harris has not been an integral part of his campaign team.

"I haven't talked to Kyley since the campaign started, actually," said McNeil. "Kyley has accepted responsibility for what happened, he went through the court system, he paid his restitution and he was trying to put his life back together and he found that it would be best for him, his daughter, and the woman he is in a relationship with now, that he does that outside the public eye."

The leaders of the other major parties were quick to weigh in on the Harris resignation.

"It makes me question why we have these ongoing controversies coming out of the office of the premier when we would rather see a little bit of dignity and respect instead," said Progressive Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie.

NDP Leader Gary Burrill reiterated points he made last week when he said Harris's continued involvement in the campaign and Liberal Party was inappropriate.

Harris's resignation comes a day after the Liberals removed their Pictou East candidate, Matthew MacKnight, for what party officials called inappropriate social media posts.

About the Author

Paul Palmeter

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Paul Palmeter is an award-winning video journalist born and raised in the Annapolis Valley. He has covered news and sports stories across the province for 30 years.