Toronto law firm won't be answering questions on N.L. government bullying investigation

The law firm that helped conduct bullying and harassment investigations in the Newfoundland and Labrador House of Assembly will not be defending their work in person.

Rubin Thomlinson has turned down the provincial government's invitation to take questions in the House of Assembly on the reports it filed on former Liberal cabinet ministers Eddie Joyce and Dale Kirby.

"They don't speak to what they do," said House speaker Perry Trimper, saying they only discuss matters with their clients — in this case, the Commissioner for Legislative Standards Bruce Chaulk.

Chaulk sat in the House of Assembly and took questions from all members on the investigations and the process behind them. Some members had hoped the law firm would do the same.


Trimper said their rejection means the process that kicked off with allegations of inappropriate behaviour in April has now drawn to a close.

"We've all agreed the matter is now concluded. We're moving on."

In the end, Joyce and Kirby were cleared of most allegations of bullying and harassment, but were still ordered to apologize for their behaviour.

Their apologies combined for a total of 11 words.

Time to raise the bar, Trimper says

As the Liberal government tries to put the matters in the rearview mirror, Trimper said he wants to ensure the level of discourse is enriched beyond name-calling and personal jabs.

In his job as speaker, Trimper upholds the rules and regulations in the House of Assembly, tasked with keeping people in line on both sides of the floor.

"I believe what needs to go on in that room is the exchange and debate of ideas," he said. "And I work very hard every day to make sure we stay with that. We stay with the facts, we stay with the differences of opinions.

I believe it needs to stay at that intellectual level - Perry Trimper, House speaker

When members can't back up their rhetoric with truth, Trimper said that's where the bullying and harassing begins.

"If you can't keep up with the facts, well maybe you sometimes go to other avenues to try to make your point, to try to throw another member off their game. So I believe it needs to stay at that intellectual level.

"If you're prepared and you understand your material, you should be able to stand on your feet and defend it and not have to answer to some other kind of silly personal attack."