N.S. cabinet minister accused of assaulting MLA
Published Thursday, May 9, 2013 8:42PM ADT
Last Updated Thursday, May 9, 2013 8:49PM ADT
Nova Scotia Liberal MLA Keith Colwell has filed a complaint with police after an alleged assault at the legislature.
Colwell and Economic Development Minister Percy Paris were involved in the incident outside the legislative chamber, in an area restricted to MLAs and staff, shortly after 2 p.m.
Colwell, the MLA for the Preston area, was on his way to the washroom when he said he was assaulted by Paris.
Colwell called police at approximately 4 p.m. to report the incident.
“I feel I was assaulted and that’s not appropriate action,” he told reporters. “I wouldn’t have filed a police report unless I felt I was threatened.”
When asked what had prompted the altercation, Colwell said he had “no idea,” that there were no ongoing disputes between them, and that he was “shocked.”
There are suggestions the dispute started over who truly represents the African-Nova Scotian community of Preston, N.S.
Colwell officially represents the community in the legislature, but Paris has indicated he also speaks for the people in the area.
Paris admitted to reporters that he lost his composure and had a “heated exchange” with Colwell.
When asked why he lost his temper, Paris replied:
“There’s been a lot of conversation in the house around the African-Nova Scotian community…I’ve heard some things in the house that certainly don’t sit well with me.”
Paris declined to say whether he assaulted Colwell.
After speaking with reporters, Paris said he was headed to the police department to discuss the matter.
Allan MacMaster, Progressive Conservative MLA for Inverness, witnessed the alleged incident.
“I guess there would be some physical contact…there was close body contact,” he said.
In 1973, there was a similar incident involving Dr. Mike Laffin, who punched another MLA, Paul McEwan, in the mouth, knocking his tooth out.
Laffin was suspended from the legislature for two weeks.
Paris and Colwell said they would be back in the legislature on Friday.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Rick Grant