Top News

Trimper leaves cabinet, remains in Liberal caucus

Premier Dwight Ball says keeping Perry Trimper in the Liberal caucus is about "second chances."
Premier Dwight Ball says keeping Perry Trimper in the Liberal caucus is about
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. —

Premier Dwight Ball says removing Perry Trimper from cabinet, but not from the Liberal caucus, comes down to second chances. 

Perry Trimper spent a week as minister of Municipal Affairs and Environment before a leaked audiotape revealed Trimper accusing the Innu Nation of playing the “race card” and claiming the nation feels “entitled” to government services.

At 1 p.m. on Friday, after spending the previous day speaking with media and apologizing to the Innu Nation, Trimper announced his resignation from the Liberal cabinet.

“I have the utmost respect for Grand Chief Rich and the Innu of our province. I am extremely disappointed in myself and am truly sorry to the Innu people, residents of Lake Melville and my colleagues,” reads the statement.

“Reflecting upon the hurt that my words have caused, I’ve decided to step back from my ministerial responsibilities, as my focus must be on repairing relationships. This is the best decision.”

Ball says Trimper volunteered to leave cabinet and committed to a restorative justice program to try to patch together a working relationship with the Innu Nation. 

In April 2018, former Liberal cabinet ministers Eddie Joyce and Dale Kirby were removed from the Liberal cabinet and caucus amid allegations of harassment and bullying. Ball says even with accusations of racism against Trimper, removing him from caucus was not the answer in this situation. 

“The question that I would ask as the leader, and I said this back in those days, if you remember, was I, as a leader, I looked to how does the individual react to this situation,” said Ball. 

“The reaction of Mr. Trimper, the early apology, with the offering of restorative justice and a path forward is the difference. Right now, keeping Perry in caucus, he has committed to that restorative justice, is primarily the difference that I see in the three situations.”

A request for comment from Innu Nation Grand Chief Gregory Rich following Trimper’s resignation was not returned by print deadline on Friday. 

After the bungling of wetland capping at the Muskrat Falls reservoir, the Nunatsiavut rejected a $10-million compensation deal agreed to by the NunatuKavut Community Council and the Innu Nation. A news release issued on Aug. 8 by Nunatsiavut president Johannes Lampe said the premier had “betrayed our trust.”

“The Nunatsiavut Government is extremely disappointment with the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador with the way it has handled the whole Muskrat Falls fiasco,” reads the Aug. 8 release. 

“The premier has repeatedly betrayed our trust by neglecting to respond, in writing or publicly, to our concerns and/or questions. If this is what reconciliation is all about, then we want no part of it.”

Ball says he doesn’t believe now is a moment of crisis in provincial-Indigenous relations.

“I don’t see it as a crisis moment, because what I see is conversations that are occurring. One of the things that’s important, and I guess I would use the analogy of where we are with family situations from time to time. Even amongst friends from time to time we have disagreements,” said Ball.

“I’m not happy with where the Indigenous files are now. There’s been bruises along the way. But what I am happy to be able to say is that at no point are we not able to get to a table and work on solutions and resolutions to find a path forward to where we need to be.”

Progressive Conservative Leader Ches Crosbie, who was set to call for Trimper’s resignation moments before it was announced, says it’s hard to say if Trimper will be able to mend his relationship with the Innu Nation.

“I think Mr. Trimper, unfortunately, is going to find his ability to do his job as a representative of the people of the area is compromised at this point. He’s going to find that increasingly over the coming days and weeks,” said Crosbie. 

“He may be driven to the conclusion that he can’t do that job, either. The first question is, does he remain in the Liberal caucus? That’s a question for Mr. Ball.”

New Democratic Party MHA Jim Dinn says there’s a lot of work ahead to mend relations with Indigenous populations. 

“I served as president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers' Association and all I can tell you is that it was always important to leave the door open for dialogue and for conversation,” said Dinn.

“It’s not like a sitcom where you have the problems resolved at the end of a half hour, but you really have to sit down and have the conversation. The conversation is going to involve listening.”

david.maher@thetelegram.com

Recent Stories