Municipal leaders weigh in on Colin Holloway
It was a tough week for the Liberal MHA for Terra Nova, Colin Holloway.
A day after the commissioner of legislative standards, Bruce Caulk, ruled on Holloway’s allegations of workplace harassment by MHAs Eddie Joyce and Dale Kirby — clearing them of any wrongdoing — Holloway and Justice Minister Andrew Parsons got into a verbal spat.
Parsons told CBC’s St. John’s Morning Show, “I know that Mr. Holloway, by his own admission, has said he has issues with multiple people so, one would question, if you have so many issues, are you sure you want to be a part of that?” suggesting Holloway should consider just leaving the party.
Holloway, however, responded by accusing Parsons of giving him the cold shoulder treatment and refusing to speak with him on various occasions.
He also says he’s not going anywhere.
“I’m still a person who responds to my constituents in a very timely manner, I work very hard on the issues brought to my attention,” Holloway told the Central Voice, Aug. 30. “People can speak to that themselves, whether they find I’m effective MHA, and they’ll decide next year when there’s an election.”
There is some concern, however, among municipal leaders in the district about whether or not Holloway can be effective as a MHA, especially in light of the comments made by Parsons.
Clarenville Mayor Frazer Russell and Eastport Mayor Genevieve Squire both commended Holloway as a hard-working MHA.
“We always found (him) to be very helpful,” Squire told The Central Voice earlier this week.
She says he proved that in the months following his harassment claims against Kirby and Joyce.
“About a week (before the reports) he attended a meeting with Eastport, hearing our issues and concerns, even though he’s been through such a difficult time,” Squire says.
Meanwhile, Russell told The Central Voice, “He has certainly been readily available at all times and has addressed our concerns and requests.”
Having said that, Russell says he does have concerns, especially after Parson’s comments in the CBC interview Aug. 29, giving the impression that Holloway is getting the cold shoulder from some members of the party.
“Given the current position he (Holloway) finds himself in with his political party, and listening to recent comments by Minister Parsons, I have to admit I have some valid and great concerns about how effective he can be in his time with the remaining term,” Russell says.
The mayor says he will be meeting with Holloway soon to discuss these concerns.
“I guess we’ll have to wait and see what happens,” he says, adding that, for now, Holloway has his support, but as mayor he has to keep his town’s best interest in mind.
If the Liberal Party continues to give Holloway the cold shoulder treatment, Russell says he can’t guarantee he will continue to support the MHA.
“The operation of a town depends on having an MHA readily available and working on your concerns, and certainly one that has some political clout.”
Squires says she is confident Holloway can still represent the district of Terra Nova.
Regardless of how things played out this week, she says she hopes the Liberal government can still work collectively to move Newfoundland and Labrador forward.
“I’m hoping things can get back to an even keel after this,” she says. “We have some good people representing us, so you think they would be able to find a way to move on and move past this.
“We need people working together, not against each other in order to work towards the betterment of the province.”
Over in St. Brendan’s, Mayor Veronica Broomfield is blunt, though she noted she speaks for herself on this matter and not town council.
She says she can’t support Holloway.
In 2016 Broomfield, who was the mayor at that time, had a text message spat with the MHA over ferry services for the Bonavista Bay island.
Broomfield was fighting for the reinstatement of a ferry trip that had been removed from the schedule. During the exchange, Holloway reminded Broomfield that she didn’t vote for him during the provincial election. He would later apologize for his remarks.
Broomfield maintains not having their MHA’s support for reinstating the ferry trip caused St. Brendan’s to lose the battle. She said it was a move that affects every resident of the island to this day.
And for that, she said, “I have no confidence in him as an MHA.”
Broomfield says she has sympathy for anyone who faces harassment, but still can’t support Holloway.
“He’s concerned about his harassment, but did he stop to think of how he harassed me and how he left me out to hang for 22 days before issuing an apology?” she told The Central Voice.
According to Broomfield there has been no productive dialogue between the mayor and MHA since, and communications are handled through other municipal channels.
“I’ve had many ups and downs with politicians over the last 17 years and I had the fights with our MHAs,” she says. “But at the end of the day it was about business, nothing was ever personal; Colin Holloway made it personal.
“So, if he’s expecting me to be on his side, I’m sorry, but what goes around comes around.”
Eastport mayor Genevieve Squire (right) with Terra Nova MHA Collin Holloway.