MHA Eddie Joyce should be suspended for withholding financial records: commissioner

·3 min read
Patrick Butler/Radio-Canada
Patrick Butler/Radio-Canada

Independent MHA Eddie Joyce be should be suspended for continued non-compliance in disclosing financial records, which amounts to violating the code of conduct, according to a new report tabled Tuesday.

Newfoundland and Labrador's commissioner of legislative standards, Bruce Chaulk, writes that Joyce failed to provide requested financial disclosure necessary to complete his Public Disclosure Statement in accordance with the House of Assembly Act.

"Given the serious nature of these violations and the unethical behaviour exhibited by MHA Joyce, I am of the opinion that he be suspended from the House of Assembly in accordance with s.45(c) of the act until he has fulfilled his statutory obligations," writes Chaulk.

Chaulk said he has given Joyce ample opportunity to do so and "financial disclosure requirements of the legislation are the foundations of the conflict of interest provisions and help form the pillars of our political system."

"This is a very straightforward issue and while it was my preference to simply advise the member and assist him with his disclosure obligations, he has left me with no choice to provide this report," Chaulk states.

Chaulk said the refusal to provide the necessary information has been ongoing since November 2019.

According to Chaulk, Joyce tried to make complying with the law contingent on Chaulk answering questions related to the Joyce Report from October 2018 Chaulk said that report was already accepted by the House of Assembly and had no bearing on this issue.

Katie Breen/CBC
Katie Breen/CBC

Chaulk writes its his opinion Joyce has violated the conflict of interest provisions, violated the House of Assembly Act also which results in a violation of the code of conduct for members of the House of Assembly and Oath of Office.

"Failure to comply with these provisions strikes at the integrity of our political system and the public confidence in our elected officials," writes Chaulk.

Joyce on the defensive

But Joyce said his financial disclosures have been filed, and that the only hangup is related to his retirement savings plan, and specifically if the plan is self-directed or directed by a bank. Joyce says he has that information and will give to the House of Assembly, but not Chaulk himself.

"I have no confidence in Bruce Chaulk," Joyce told reporters Tuesday.

The reason for that?

"Dwight Ball had staff during this investigation, I don't know how many times but I know many times, discussing things with Bruce Chaulk ... I'm going to present all this information in the House where Dwight Ball was in contact with Bruce Chaulk and I want to know if my finances were discussed. " Joyce alleged.

In April 2018 Joyce was removed from the Liberal caucus following complaints of harassment and bullying filed by Liberal MHA Sherry Gambin-Walsh. Joyce was mostly cleared of those complaints.

In May Joyce filed a lawsuit against former premier Dwight Ball, former Speaker Perry Trimper, Gambin-Walsh and Chaulk for defamation over the handling of the harassment complaint.

Joyce told reporters on Tuesday he has lost faith in Chaulk, who is independent from government, and that Chaulk was in contact with Ball during the investigation.

"I've been writing Bruce Chaulk back and forth saying 'Show me who you spoke to,' because one of the principles I was accused of was Principle 6, my finance, and I wanted to make sure my finances were never discussed with Dwight Ball or any of his staff," said Joyce. "And he refused to confirm that."

Joyce said he knows of at least one more MHA who Chaulk is waiting for to disclose financial records.

"But he's not being brought before the House," said Joyce. "This is just me wanting to know what was discussed with Dwight Ball and his staff."

Joyce said Chaulk's recommendation of suspension won't reach the point to where MHAs will have to vote on it.

"It'll never get to that. It won't get to that," said Joyce on Tuesday.

Joyce said he's ready to run again as an independent in the next election.

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