Humber- Bay of Islands Independent candidate Eddie Joyce has fired back at Placentia- St. Mary’s Liberal candidate Sherry Gambin-Walsh for comments made in a recent article published in The Shoreline.
The Shoreline had asked Gambin-Walsh how two political scandals in which she was invovled may affect her campaign.
The first was the complaint she filed against Joyce, then the Liberal Minister of Municipal Affairs, in 2018, in which she accused him of bullying and harassment.
Commissioner for legislative standards Bruce Chaulk (who has recently been thrust into the spotlight in his role as Chief Electoral Officer for the current election) filed a report which found Joyce to have indeed broken government’s code of conduct.
Following the harassment complaints, Joyce was removed from the Liberal caucus by then premier Dwight Ball. Joyce would go on to run as an Independent in the 2019 election, and win the seat which he formerly held as a Liberal.
Gambin-Walsh was also re-elected in the 2019 election, but then, just over a year later, was removed from cabinet in April 2020 as the RCMP launched a criminal investigation into allegations that she leaked cabinet documents. She was swiftly removed from her position as Minister of Service NL though she remained MHA of the district. In September, the RCMP announced that Gambin-Walsh broke cabinet confidentially by leaking information to a senior police officer in the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary but that she would not be charged criminally. Premier Andrew Furey however did not appoint her to cabinet.
Gambin-Walsh said while she was fully prepared to answer questions on the door about the RCMP investigation, constituents were more interested to hear about the Joyce situation.
“The 2018 situation with MHA Joyce, that got a bit of attention, and people were very curious and did ask me a fair bit about that. They are interested in bullying and harassment though. And they’re happy that I spoke up against it,” said Gambin-Walsh during the initial interview.
Joyce, who still denies the allegations of bullying, took exception to the comments, and said that Gambin-Walsh was highlighting one scandal over another.
“This was a police investigation about where she leaked cabinet documents about stuff that was happening in cabinet, which broke her oath, which undermined the whole cabinet process and all of her colleagues,” said Joyce.
He also challenged Gambin-Walsh on her commitment to a project in the district, specifically the long-awaited Placentia swimming pool.
“She should be talking about why she’s not supporting the swimming pool,” said Joyce.
In 2015, the provincial government announced a $30 million program for four significant community projects through amendments to the Voisey’s Bay Development Agreement. One of those projects was a pool for Placentia, for which the local Lions Club had been fundraising for a number of years.
The pool was to be built as an extension on the Unity PARC Arena.
Joyce said the cost for that pool is now estimated to be about $9 million, and criticized Gambin-Walsh, and the provincial government, for not making the project a priority.
“She’s not supporting it, the provincial government is not supporting it; the town council are supporting it, the federal government have committed that they will,” said Joyce.
The last funding announcement came in 2018, when the province announced joint funding of $7.8 million ($3.6 million in provincial, up to $2.6 million federally, and $1.6 million municipally) this time for a fitness centre, which would incorporate the swimming pool.
Gambin-Walsh, meanwhile, in the initial interview with The Shoreline, said that she acknowledged residents’ concerns about the increased cost of the fitness centre.
She also, when asked her thoughts on Premier Andrew Furey’s leadership capabilities, noted his commitment to healthy living and that the Placentia centre would become an example of that commitment.
Mark Squibb, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Shoreline News