Innu Nation leaders say Lake Melville MHA Perry Trimper not seeking re-election is only a halfway step and are calling for Trimper’s resignation from the House of Assembly and the Liberal caucus.
“Innu Nation, Mushuau Innu First Nation and Sheshatshiu Innu First Nation say that they cannot support the continuation of Perry Trimper as their representative in the provincial House of Assembly; that he must be removed from caucus and that he should furthermore do the honourable thing and resign fully as MHA for the Lake Melville district,” reads a statement issued late Monday.
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.”
“I encouraged him to contemplate and reflect on where he was in life with those comments. More important, reflect on the complexity of the issues.”
In the statement, the Innu Nation says they informed Premier Andrew Furey on Friday that nothing less than Trimper’s full removal would be acceptable.
Trimper will not seek re-election after a second controversy of his political career led him to re-evaluate his role as a member of the House of Assembly.
“I feel I have advanced the challenges before Lake Melville as far as I can take them at this time. It is important that someone else be ready to support Premier Andrew Furey and the Liberal Party of Newfoundland and Labrador,” read a statement issued by Trimper on Monday.
“I therefore will be withdrawing my nomination as the Liberal candidate for the district of Lake Melville, for the next election. I will continue to focus on supporting the people of Lake Melville, so will resign from my roles as parliamentary secretary in education and finance, and as special adviser to the premier on climate change.”
Last week, Trimper apologized for comments he made on CBC’s "Labrador Morning" where he suggested those struggling with addictions and homelessness were choosing their lifestyle.
The controversy comes just over a year after Trimper accused the Innu Nation of playing the “race card” during negotiations between the Indigenous government and provincial government regarding translation services for those seeking a driver’s license in the province.
Those two controversies are top-of-mind for the Innu Nation.
“Innu Nation had questioned why a long-standing practice for translation by Innu members for each other for driver examination testing had changed. Despite a request made to Mr. Trimper as MHA for the Lake Melville district for support in resolving the situation, Trimper was heard on tape accusing Innu of ‘playing the race card,’” continues the statement.
They note that the MHA was in a similar position just last week "where he had to apologize to Indigenous people and that it is indicative of his failure to understand systemic racism and a willingness to engage in victim-blaming that renders him incapable of representing Indigenous people.”
On Monday, Premier Andrew Furey said he let Trimper reflect on his future in politics over the weekend and was told of his decision on Monday morning.
“I encouraged him to contemplate and reflect on where he was in life with those comments. More important, reflect on the complexity of the issues,” said Furey.
“He came to this conclusion by himself.”
Furey didn’t commit to replacing Trimper in his role as special adviser to the premier on climate change.
“That’s something I’m certainly beginning to consider. Right now, this is obviously very fresh,” he said.
“I’m going to be thinking about that myself.”
Progressive Conservative Leader Ches Crosbie says the Liberals can’t seem to escape controversy.
“There’s a continuity here with the history of Liberal scandals of the last five years. Unfortunately, the new premier has not been able to get over that heritage, that legacy of scandal,” he said.
“It’s continuing under his watch.”
David Maher is the political reporter for The Telegram