Speaker Chris Collins released a two page statement today, saying that he will sit as an Independent for the remainder of his term. He also says he will not reoffer as a Liberal in the September election, and he has asked Counsel to initiate notice under The Proceedings against the Crown Act, for a cause of libel and slander.
“I have asked the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly to move my seat to the opposition’s side where I will finish my term as an independent member of the Legislature. I realize that this makes the Gallant Government a de facto minority Government as of now,” Collins said in an emailed statement.
“I want to make it clear that I will not be re-offering for this Liberal Party of New Brunswick in the upcoming election. The perplexing actions of the Premier in or about April 5th were simply the culminating event, albeit traumatic for my family,” Collins added.
Allegations of harassment were made against Collins in early April.
He says, “The handling of this file by The Premier has been nothing less than atrocious. Process has been ignored and the file has been extremely prejudiced by Mr. Gallant. One would expect more from the Premier of any Province. This has been very troubling from the beginning.”
Collins thanked everyone for their overwhelming encouragement. He says he has received many texts, Facebook messages, phone calls and letters of support. Most of all, he thanked his wife Lisette.
“Lisette has stood by me every step of the way with love and support and has believed in me during this extremely trying time. I will spend the rest of my life in gratitude to her for her unwavering and loving support.”
He also thanked the Liberal Association of Moncton Centre and its President, Audrey Lampert.
In his statement, Collins also criticized the Premier of the way things have been handled, “The Premier’s misconceived and ill advised actions in this matter have greatly damaged my present political opportunities, not to mention the pathway for complainants and respondents to resolve, defend or move forward in the future.
Collins is being represented by T.J Burke who has been hired to fight harassment allegations.
” I want to state here and now that while I have not been in agreement with many decisions that this Government has made, I believe and support the general ideals of Liberalism. I am a Liberal. The very first night of this event and every day since, both Lisette and I have been in agreement that I could never place my name or reputation in support of this “Leader” again.”