N.L. minister out of cabinet after being served with warrant, premier says

Sherry Gambin-Walsh, minister of service, left to right, and Christopher Mitchelmore, minister of tourism, culture and innovation listen as Finance Minister Tom Osborne presents the 2019 Budget in the House of Assembly in St. John's on April 16, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Daly

The premier of Newfoundland and Labrador confirmed Saturday he had removed a member of his cabinet after the minister revealed she had been served with a warrant alleging a breach of trust involving cabinet secrets.

“The warrant, as described to me by the minister, was about cabinet confidences,” Premier Dwight Ball told a news conference via telephone.

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He said Sherry Gambin-Walsh’s role in cabinet, as the minister responsible for Service NL, would be assumed by Finance Minister Tom Osborne, who was sworn in on Saturday.

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The Liberal premier did not disclose the nature of the allegations against Gambin-Walsh, but he confirmed the RCMP were investigating allegations related to actions she took after June 2018.

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He stressed that no charges had been laid.

“It’s an investigation that is ongoing, but any time you get any minister that is under investigation for a breach of cabinet confidence, there’s really no choice,” Ball said. “As premier, as leader, the privileges of being a cabinet minister will be removed for an ongoing investigation.”

Ball said Gambin-Walsh will continue to represent Placentia—St. Mary’s in the provincial legislature and he confirmed she had not been removed from the Liberal caucus.

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The premier said he learned about the RCMP’s general warrant on Friday when he received a call from Gambin-Walsh.

Ball admitted he felt frustrated having to deal with removing a cabinet minister at a time when the country is facing a health-care crisis.

“Of course it can be frustrating,” he said. “But we took swift action to deal with this.”

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The premier said his priority is focusing on leading the province through the COVID-19 pandemic.

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