Perry Trimper halts re-election bid in wake of comments about homeless people

·3 min read

Perry Trimper, the MHA for Lake Melville, will not seek re-election in the next general Newfoundland and Labrador election, and said Monday he has withdrawn from some of his legislative duties.

Trimper had been the confirmed Liberal candidate for the district, but in an announcement Monday morning, said he was withdrawing his nomination.

"With progress and change comes challenge. I feel I have advanced the challenges before Lake Melville as far as I can take them at this time," Trimper said in a statement.

Trimper also said he is resigning from his role as parliamentary secretary to the Education and Finance departments, as well as his position as a special advisor on climate change to the premier. Trimper was named to those roles in August.

His announcement comes on the heels of controversial comments about homeless people in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

In the wake of a video showing a homeless Inuk man in the town being arrested, handcuffed and then thrown to the ground by a municipal enforcement officer, Trimper had on Oct. 20 said homeless people were "choosing" a risky lifestyle.

Trimper made the decision on his own: Furey

Premier Andrew Furey told reporters on Monday that he didn't try and sway Trimper's decision.

"He took the weekend to contemplate that and came to that decision … and I'm satisfied with that conclusion he came to," Furey said.

"I encouraged him to contemplate and reflect on where he was in life and with those comments, and more important reflect on the complexity of the issues and he came to this conclusion by himself."

However, even though Trimper had apologized for the comments, Furey late last week had hinted that Trimper was re-evaluating his political future.

"I found those comments troubling, and the language that was selected was inappropriate," Furey said at the time.

In Monday's statement Trimper said he will continue to support the people of Lake Melville, and not comment further publicly on the matter. He held firm to that particular statement when he refused to speak to reporters Monday after question period in the House of Assembly.

"There is still plenty of work to do, and I will do what I can to assist," he said in the statement.

Trimper resigned from cabinet in September 2019, after he inadvertently left comments on a voicemail to an Innu Nation staff member, describing the Innu as playing "the race card." Trimper apologized at the time for that recording.

Eugene Hart, chief of the Sheshatshiu Innu First Nation, last Friday called for Trimper to step down over the two incidents.

Trimper was first elected to the House of Assembly in 2015.

Innu want immediate departure

Meanwhile, leaders of the Innu Nation, Sheshatshiu Innu First Nation and Mushuau Innu First Nation are calling for Trimper's full resignation, saying stepping away from some legislative duties is not enough especially since the province hasn't set a date for the next general election which leaves Trimper as the sitting MHA representing Lake Melville until then.

The group said in a media release Monday night it informed Furey late Friday evening that nothing short of Trimper's full removal would be acceptable.

"Given that the date for the next general election has not yet been announced, Innu leaders note that Perry Trimper could conceivably remain as MHA for Lake Melville District for several months to come and that having him remain as their MHA is not something they can support," reads the release.

"Any decision either for or by him to remain in caucus or as their MHA is, Innu leaders say, by default acceptance of systemic racism by both the government of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Liberal Party of Newfoundland and Labrador, and only serves to demonstrate further failure by Mr. Trimper to take responsibility for his actions."

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