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Nova Scotia justice minister resigns following domestic violence comments

Brad Johns is shown at the provincial legislature in Halifax on March 24, 2022. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Keith Doucette) Brad Johns is shown at the provincial legislature in Halifax on March 24, 2022. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Keith Doucette)
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Nova Scotia Justice Minister Brad Johns has resigned, according to a short statement from Premier Tim Houston on Friday evening.

“I accepted the resignation of Brad Johns as a minister in my cabinet,” read the statement.

Speaking to reporters Thursday, the fourth anniversary of the beginning of the Nova Scotia mass shooting, Johns told reporters he didn’t believe domestic violence was an “epidemic.”

“No, I don’t because I think epidemic…you’re seeing it everywhere all the time,” Johns said. “I don’t think that’s the case. Personally I think this was an issue and is an issue.”

When pressed, he said he believed there were other issues causing more problems in society such as drugs and guns.

The remarks prompted immediate backlash online and from other political leaders, who demanded Johns resign as minister. The premier tried to corral the issue, re-joining the Zoom call, and assuring reporters his government considered domestic violence an epidemic.

Johns formally apologized a few hours later, but the outrage over the remarks continued in some circles Friday.

“Your justice minister, the head law enforcement officer for the province, and policing is a provincial responsibility. It’s hurtful,” CTV Public Safety Analyst Chris Lewis said Friday.

“From a timing perspective, on the anniversary of this tremendous mass shooting, tremendous loss of life and was really domestic violence was a huge part of that on the front end,” said Lewis.

In a written statement, Claudia Chender, leader of N.S. NDP, said “Johns’ resignation is only the first step to address the harm done”.

“Nova Scotians were angry and hurt by the Minister’s callous statement regarding his disagreement with the Mass Casualty Commission’s finding of an epidemic of gender-based violence,” the statement reads. “This was the only acceptable response following Mr. Johns’ comments yesterday. The next steps for the Houston government are to fully support the organizations doing the work on the ground every day and to advance the work needed for the societal change called for by the Mass Casualty Commission.” 

Friday’s statement went on to say, “Domestic violence is an issue our government takes very seriously. 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.”

A spokesperson for the premier said he would not be commenting further Friday night.

For more Nova Scotia news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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