Environment Minister Andrew Younger fired from Nova Scotia Liberal cabinet, caucus
Younger will now sit as an independent after failing to testify at trial of woman accused of assaulting him
Environment Minister Andrew Younger has been fired from Liberal cabinet and caucus after failing to testify at a trial of a woman accused of assaulting him two years ago.
Younger said he was prevented from testifying due to privilege granted to him as a member of the legislative assembly.
He said the privilege keeps him from being compelled to testify while the legislature is in session, even if the House is not sitting.
Younger was the Crown's only witness the assault case against former Liberal staffer Tara Gault. Charges against Gault were dropped.
Younger to sit as an independent
Liberal Premier Stephen McNeil announced Younger was fired at a news conference Thursday night.
McNeil said Younger gave him misinformation about what happened with his testimony.
Earlier Thursday, Younger contradicted himself during a 48 minute long news conference. McNeil also said Younger gave an unsatisfactory explanation to staff about his actions.
"In order for me to have someone in our cabinet and in our caucus, I have to be able to rely on the information provided to us," McNeil said at a hastily-called news announcement.
"I expect it to be accurate and forthright," McNeil said. "That's important to me."
"I wish him well. I wish his family well, but I can no longer rely on the information that would have been provided to me," McNeil said.
"It's time to move on."
Liberal MLA Randy Delorey will be the acting environment minister, McNeil said. Younger will sit as an independent.
Privilege an 'obscure law'
New Democratic Party Leader Maureen MacDonald had called for Younger's resignation earlier in the day. Following McNeil's announcement, she said she applauded the premier for agreeing with her.
MacDonald called invoking privilege "a highly irregular way to deal with a witness in a criminal case."
The premier asked Nova Scotia's justice minister to review the law that established the privilege Younger invoked Thursday afternoon.
"My role is to make sure there isn't a double standard," McNeil said at the time.
McNeil called privilege an "obscure law that [Younger] and his lawyer determined to use."
Younger's troubles first began two years ago.
- Oct. 22, 2013: The N.S. Liberal cabinet is sworn in. That same day Younger was allegedly attacked by Tara Gault, a Liberal staffer with whom Younger had a personal relationship.
- Dec. 23, 2014: Younger takes a personal leave of absence from his position as energy minister. His pay is suspended.
- Jan. 2015: Gault was charged with assault.
- Jul. 24, 2015: Younger is reinstated as a cabinet minister, this time to the environment portfolio.
Younger was first elected as the MLA for Dartmouth East in 2009. Since then, Younger also has been the minister of communications and part of the gaming control act.
Younger previously was a regional councilor representing East Dartmouth - The Lakes. He also ran a documentary and communications consulting firm.