N.S. cabinet minister resigns, charged with assaulting fellow MLA
Published Friday, May 10, 2013 7:24AM EDT
Last Updated Friday, May 10, 2013 6:40PM EDT
A Nova Scotia MLA has resigned from cabinet and been charged with assault and uttering threats after an altercation with another politician in the provincial legislature on Thursday.
NDP MLA Percy Paris resigned as minister for economic and rural development after the incident, which took place outside a washroom at the House of Assembly.
Liberal MLA Keith Colwell alleges Paris assaulted and threatened him, and told reporters that, “I wouldn’t have filed a police report unless I felt I was threatened.”
Neither man would say exactly what happened. Paris would only describe the incident for reporters as an animated exchange.
“I regret that I lost my cool for a few seconds,” Paris said Thursday.
The legislature was suspended for an hour on Friday morning when Colwell asked that the committee of internal affairs look into Paris’s actions.
“You’ve got to be able to go to work and be sure that you’re safe at work and you feel comfortable at work and you can do your work without being intimidated,” Colwell told reporters.
It remained unclear Friday what exactly led to the incident.
“There’s been a lot of conversation in the House around the African Nova Scotia community that’s taken place, certainly today, that I’ve heard some things in the House that certainly don’t set well with me,” Paris said Thursday.
Earlier Thursday, before the incident, Colwell had stood up in the legislature and asked why a mobile mammography unit had not visited his Halifax riding of Preston, which has a large number of black constituents.
Premier Darrell Dexter said that, “Like everyone, I’m perplexed by it all,” adding that he had accepted Paris’s resignation from cabinet but he would remain a member of the NDP caucus.
Opposition leaders said the incident left them embarrassed.
“The events of yesterday just reinforce all that’s wrong about the negative mud-slinging that goes back and forth and inevitably leads to something like what happened last night,” said Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie.
Former provincial finance minister Graham Steele will replace Paris as minister for economic and rural development. Steel had previously announced that he will not run in the next election.
“When the premier of the province calls you and says, “Can you help?’ The answer is yes,” Steele told reporters.
Friday marked the end of the legislature’s spring session.
Paris is scheduled to appear in provincial court on June 18.
With a report from CTV Atlantic’s Jacqueline Foster and files from The Canadian Press