HALIFAX – A committee of the Nova Scotia legislature will take a deeper look at the conduct of a politician who has been charged with assault and uttering threats.
The legislature voted Friday to refer the case of NDP member Percy Paris to its internal affairs committee after Liberal Keith Colwell alleged he was assaulted by another member of the house.
“Yesterday in the house of assembly, I was assaulted and threatened by the minister of economic and rural development and tourism,” Colwell asserted.
“This improper behaviour by the minister was quite clearly an execution of a threat and intimidation, an attempt to prevent me from performing my function as a legislator, elected representative for my constituents and member of this assembly.”
Police charged Paris of Windsor Junction on Thursday night after responding to a complaint of an assault at around 3:30 p.m. at Province House. Paris was released until his case is due in Halifax provincial court on June 18.
Paris, 65, resigned as minister of economic and rural development on Thursday night after saying he lost his composure during an incident outside a bathroom.
On Thursday, Paris said he had a “heated exchange” with Colwell while the two were near the doorway of a washroom for members of the legislature, but he declined to discuss details of what happened.
Paris said he momentarily lost his temper.
“Things reached a point where I lost my composure for a few brief seconds,” said Paris.
“I regret I lost my cool for a few seconds.”
Paris said debate in the legislature Thursday concerning the province’s African-Canadian community irritated him.
“There were a lot of things that were said today that don’t set well with me,” said Paris, a black member of the house.
Colwell, who represents Preston, a Halifax-area riding with a large number of black constituents, raised questions in the house Thursday about a mobile mammography unit, accusing the government of neglecting to ensure it would visit his riding.
He asked the premier to apologize to the people of Preston, saying it was “a black community that’s not going to get the service this year because it was left off the government’s website.”
Paris wouldn’t say whether Colwell’s questions were the source of his irritation.
Premier Darrell Dexter said Paris will continue to serve as the member for the Halifax-area riding of Waverley-Fall River-Beaverbank.
Dexter made changes to his cabinet Friday after Paris’s resignation.
Backbencher and former finance minister Graham Steele will take over as economic and rural development minister.
Finance Minister Maureen MacDonald becomes the minister of African Nova Scotian affairs, a portfolio that Paris also held.