Minister resigns from cabinet after ‘hurt’ caused by comments that shocked Innu Nation

Newfoundland and Labrador’s environment minister has stepped down from cabinet after remarks he left on a voicemail were described as “very racist” by a staffer and shocked the Innu Nation.

Perry Trimper, who was appointed to the portfolio just last week in a cabinet shuffle that moved him to the environment portfolio from Speaker of the House, announced Friday he would be stepping back from his ministerial duties.

“Reflecting upon the hurt that my words have caused, I’ve decided to step back from my ministerial responsibilities as my focus must be on repairing relationships,” he said. “This is the best decision.”

Trimper remains in the Liberal government caucus.

“We were very surprised and disturbed and disappointed,” Grand Chief Gregory Rich said, upon the release of a voicemail left by Lake Melville MHA Perry Trimper.

Trimper had called Innu Nation executive assistant Dominic Rich’s phone number, leaving a voicemail in relation to questions about translator services for motor vehicle registration.

The call didn’t hang up, and an exchange between Trimper and an unidentified woman was also recorded.

What did Perry Trimper and a colleague say? Hear the recording: 

That recorded conversation was posted by the Innu Nation on Thursday.

In it, the woman says “they have a feeling of entitlement.” Trimper says, “the race card comes up all the time.”

“Man, don’t play that on me. I’ve been 32 years working with you guys, don’t play that on me,” he says in the recording.

Trimper apologized on air for the remarks during CBC’s Here & Now.

“Regardless if it was recorded or not, I shouldn’t have said it,” he told CBC on Thursday after apologizing.

Minutes after Trimper’s announcement Friday, PC Leader Ches Crosbie told reporters that Trimper made the right decision to resign from cabinet. 

When asked if he should be removed from the Liberal Caucus, Crosbie said that should be up to the Innu Nation.

Chief Rich, meanwhile, said the Innu Nation is still reeling.

“We were very shocked and today we are still talking about it, and we were wondering why would Minister Trimper say these kinds of things to the Innu people,” Rich said.

“Basically it’s a racial remark to the Innu people, and we’ve been working with Minister Trimper for many years and we don’t understand why he would make comments toward Innu people like that.”

Innu Nation Grand Chief Gregory Rich says Newfoundland cabinet minister Perry Trimper called him Thursday to apologize for remarks made in a voicemail recording. Rich said it makes him question what has been said behind closed doors. (Bailey White/CBC)

Trimper did call Rich on Thursday night to apologize over the phone. But when asked by Rich, wouldn’t identify the unidentified woman on the recording.

“He said he was very sorry for what he said on the voicemail where he was recorded, and that’s not him,” Rich said.

The Innu Nation will be meeting later on Friday to discuss what they plan to do about it, he said.

“We’re going to draft a strongly worded letter to the premier and at the same time we’ll talk internally of what we need to do, because this is a very serious issue, when this kind of comment is coming from [a member of] the government, like Minister Trimper,” Rich said.

“It also makes me wonder what’s being said behind closed doors.”

On Thursday, Premier Dwight Ball sent out a statement, saying he had spoken to Chief Rich to apologize for what happened.

“In no way does Minister Trimper’s comments reflect the views of Premier Ball, or that of the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. Government values the relationship with the Innu Nation and holds the Innu Nation in the highest respect,” the premier said in a statement.

Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

Minister resigns from cabinet after ‘hurt’ caused by comments that shocked Innu Nation

Aggregated from: CBC | Newfoundland and Labrador News

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