N.S. justice minister resigns after saying domestic violence not an epidemic

Click to play video: 'Advocacy groups speak out against domestic violence comments by N.S. minister'
Advocacy groups speak out against domestic violence comments by N.S. minister
RELATED: Advocacy groups are saying they are appalled by remarks made by Nova Scotia Justice Minister Brad Johns regarding gender-based violence on the anniversary of the Nova Scotia mass shooting. Despite the minister’s apology, they say that’s not enough and are calling for a resignation. Amber Fryday reports – Apr 19, 2024

Nova Scotia Justice Minister Brad Johns has resigned from cabinet one day after saying he did not believe domestic violence was an epidemic in the province.

In a Friday evening statement, Premier Tim Houston said he had accepted Johns’ resignation.

“Domestic violence is an issue our government takes very seriously,” wrote Houston.

“We will continue to work with partner organizations to do everything we can to support the important work being done in response to the Mass Casualty Commission’s final report and in response to the ongoing epidemic of domestic violence across Nova Scotia and Canada.”

Click to play video: 'N.S. justice minister faces backlash over domestic violence comments'
N.S. justice minister faces backlash over domestic violence comments

Thursday was the fourth anniversary of the beginning of the rampage in which a gunman killed 22 people after first attacking his spouse.

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Johns made the controversial comments Thursday while responding to a reporter’s question on the inquiry into the 2020 Nova Scotia mass shooting, which recommended that domestic violence be treated as an epidemic.

“I think that an epidemic – you’re seeing it everywhere, all the time – I don’t think that’s the case,” he told reporters.

He said while he agrees domestic violence is an issue, he believes there are “bigger issues, too,” listing guns, drugs, and “violence in general” as examples.

Minutes after Johns’ comments, Houston told reporters that the justice minister will be issuing an apology.

“I want to be very clear about this government’s position on domestic violence. This is an issue we take very seriously. As the Mass Casualty Commission included in their report, domestic violence is an epidemic in Nova Scotia and in Canada,” he said.

“The commission was also clear that it played a role in the tragedy that occurred in 2020, and we will do everything we can to prevent a tragedy like this from ever happening again.”

The premier also said the province has provided more than $7 million to community-based organizations to help address gender-based violence.

Later in the afternoon Thursday, Johns issued a written statement saying his comments “were wrong and have caused pain.”

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“Domestic violence is a serious issue in Nova Scotia. I want survivors of domestic violence to know that they will be supported when they come forward and have confidence that when they do, they will be believed and treated respectfully,” he wrote.

Several Nova Scotia organizations that assist women, as well as Liberal leader Zach Churchill and NDP leader Claudia Chender, had called for his resignation. 

— with files from Global News’ Alex Cooke and The Canadian Press 

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