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Labrador MHA offers apology for suggesting homelessness is a 'choice'

Perry Trimper
Perry Trimper. — David Maher/The Telegram

Representative for Lake Melville had said there were homeless people with addictions issues who were choosing their lifestyle

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. —

Lake Melville MHA Perry Trimper is once again apologizing for comments made about constituents, this time stating that people with addictions issues and living with homelessness are “choosing” their lifestyle.

The comments were made during an interview on CBC’s "Labrador Morning" on Tuesday.

“There’s many things going on in that video besides a very aggressive takedown by the enforcement officer. Also in that video, I see people battling addictions. I see people who are choosing to live a lifestyle that absolutely puts them at risk,” Trimper said during the broadcast.

Trimper goes on to discuss the various responses to the situation in the district and those living with addictions and homelessness.

“We have all of these supports out there and we still have people who are, you know, because of addictions, because of many complicated problems are choosing, unfortunately, to live a lifestyle which is putting them at risk,” he said.

“It’s leading to issues of putting other citizens in the community at risk.”


“I did want to apologize for my phrasing and my words. There’s no question. My intent remains strong. I will do what I can to support all people of Labrador in my district, but particularly those most vulnerable.” — Perry Trimper


On Wednesday, Trimper said there’s a difficult situation unfolding in his district which has been ongoing for many years.

“We have a very challenging situation in Lake Melville. Many people are dealing with mental-health and addictions issues. It does descend and much of what you’re seeing is related to intergenerational trauma,” Trimper told reporters on Wednesday.

“It’s a very challenging situation. We have so many supports available and it’s challenging to see the situations where we still have people who are still struggling with their own addictions. Sometimes you can’t find the right words to express.”

Trimper apologized for his comments.

“I did want to apologize for my phrasing and my words. There’s no question,” he said.

“My intent remains strong. I will do what I can to support all people of Labrador in my district, but particularly those most vulnerable.”

Deputy Premier Siobhan Coady said in the House of Assembly that Premier Andrew Furey is reviewing the situation.


Torngat Mountains MHA Lela Evans — David Maher/The Telegram
Torngat Mountains MHA Lela Evans — David Maher/The Telegram


In September 2019, Trimper was removed from then-premier Dwight Ball’s cabinet after accusing the Innu Nation of “playing the race card” — a statement met with wide condemnations and accusations of racism.

Torngat Mountains MHA Lela Evans, who was also being interviewed on the radio program that morning, says Trimper needs to make things right with his constituents, once again.


“A person doesn’t really choose. The addiction chooses for them. The addiction is making the decision for the people to remain homeless." — MHA Lela Evans


“I don’t think it’s me he needs to apologize to. It’s his district of Lake Melville and the Indigenous people of Newfoundland and Labrador,” said Evans.

She says the issues surrounding those living with addictions issues in the Lake Melville area are complex and long-standing. She says it’s not as easy as someone choosing to seek help when they’re gripped by addiction.

“I’m not a social worker or counsellor, have no training, but I recognize the impact addictions have on people. It derails people,” she said.

“A person doesn’t really choose. The addiction chooses for them. The addiction is making the decision for the people to remain homeless. That’s why we as a government, that’s why agencies have to step up. The town of Happy Valley-Goose Bay has been trying to deal with this issue for a good four or five years. It’s become really serious. They have not been getting the resources or dedication of services they need to deal with it.”

As for consequences for Trimper, Evans points to the upcoming provincial election.

“I think it’s up to the people of Lake Melville.”


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