PC leader Ches Crosbie and NDP leader Alison Coffin held a rare joint news conference Friday to call on Gerry Byrne to resign as fisheries minister.
In a statement, Crosbie said Byrne’s behaviour in the House this week was “intolerable”. That’s after Byrne threw accusations across the floor of House of Assembly on Thursday. He accused PC MHA Jim Lester of defending “poachers” in response to questions about farmers not being allowed to shoot moose threatening their crops at night. He also accused NDP MHA Jim Dinn of marginalizing Indigenous groups in response to questions about the farmed salmon die-off on the south coast.
“Mr. Byrne’s behaviour has crossed the line of what is acceptable of a minister of the Crown,” Crosbie said. “Hurling malicious accusations against members of other parties and the general public — accusing honourable people of being criminals and racists — is not only repulsive, but intolerable of any minister, particularly in light of the harassment scandals that saw other members removed from cabinet and reprimanded.
Coffin described Byrne’s behaviour as aggressive with an intention to intimidate.
“Minister Byrne’s aggressive behaviour during Question Period on Nov. 6, leaning forward over his desk and staring down the opposite side of the House instead of addressing his answers to the Speaker, followed by his attempts to defame and raise suspicion about MHA Dinn, constitute completely unacceptable conduct for a Member of the House of Assembly and a Minister,” Coffin said.
“If the Minister won’t do the right thing and resign, I call on the Premier to remove Gerry Byrne from cabinet.”
For his part, Byrne is refusing to back down. He told a news conference on Friday morning that he makes no apologies and he will not be resigning from cabinet.