Judge dismisses claims by Dale Kirby in wake of 2018 bullying allegations

Most of the claims set forth by Dale Kirby in a lawsuit against his former Liberal colleagues have been dismissed on the grounds of parliamentary privilege. (CBC - image credit)
Most of the claims set forth by Dale Kirby in a lawsuit against his former Liberal colleagues have been dismissed on the grounds of parliamentary privilege. (CBC - image credit)

Dale Kirby's lawsuit against his former Liberal colleagues and the now-former commissioner for legislative standards has been struck down.

In her Dec. 22 decision, Justice Sandra Chaytor said the majority of Kirby's claims were covered by parliamentary privilege, meaning the court had no jurisdiction to rule on them. The judge awarded court costs for Parsons and Holloway.

Kirby, the province's former education minister, launched the court action in 2020 against former Liberal MHA Colin Holloway and current Women and Gender Equality Minister Pam Parsons, claiming they acted with malice when they alleged he bullied and harassed them in 2018. Kirby also said the investigation into those complaints — conducted by Bruce Chaulk — was negligent.

Chaytor dismissed all but one of Kirby's claims. When it came to allegations of defamation, she ruled those did not fall under parliamentary privilege, since Kirby took issue with comments made in public.

However, Chaytor said the allegations of defamation were not supported by the facts of the case as it was presented. Instead of dismissing the claims outright, she is allowing Kirby the opportunity to refile an amended statement of claim.

Kirby was removed from cabinet and caucus by then premier Dwight Ball in the spring of 2018 after Parsons and Holloway complained that Kirby harassed them, and Chaulk was asked to investigate the allegations.

Chaulk's investigation found Kirby had not bullied or harassed his colleagues but had breached the code of conduct for MHAs in relation to Parsons' complaint. It also found Kirby was not in violation of any of the alleged breaches of the code of conduct raised by Holloway.

Kirby — along with fellow ousted Liberal MHA Eddie Joyce — were ordered to apologize in the House of Assembly. Both men kept it short.

"I apologize," Joyce said on Nov. 6, 2018.

"I offer my apologies to the House, Mr. Speaker," Kirby said the following afternoon.

Joyce had filed a similar lawsuit in the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador. In a decision before Christmas, Chaytor ruled the same way with Joyce — dismissing his claims due to parliamentary privilege.

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