Eddie Joyce says he’s feeling singled out after he claims government officials staked out his home to enforce a vehicle licensing issue.
In a letter written to Premier Dwight Ball, dated Tuesday, the former Liberal and now independent legislature member for the Bay of Islands, accused Service NL Minister Sherry Gambin-Walsh of permitting highway enforcement officers from her department to go to his house in Corner Brook repeatedly to deliver new license plates for a rough-terrain vehicle (RTV) registered in Joyce’s wife’s name.
Some of these vehicles, such as the Joyces’ Kubota RTV, could be licensed for use on the street as long as they had certain modifications, including signal lights, wipers and a horn.
Joyce said his office had received many complaints about recent changes to limit the licensing of these vehicles, prohibiting them from being operated on highways with speed limits in excess of 80 kilometres per hour.
He wrote Gambin-Walsh’s office twice, on Jan. 28 and 30, asking for clarification of the new rules. He also voiced concerns about an officer visiting someone’s home, asking for their plates so they could be replaced with the proper new ones.
Joyce said visiting homes was not proper protocol for these measures and demanded the action should cease.
Joyce said, for two days after he had written Gambin-Walsh and had received acknowledgement of the correspondence from the minister, officers were seen driving up and down the street he lives on and parked in his driveway, waiting for someone to come home.
When he answered his door, Joyce was given a new plate for his wife’s vehicle and was asked to hand over the old ones. Joyce refused, saying his wife had not received any written notification she needed new plates.
Joyce said he was even given a receipt for the $95 cost of the new plate, which he said his wife never actually paid.
The Western Star asked both Gambin-Walsh and the premier for a response to Joyce’s allegations.
Gambin-Walsh was not made available for an interview. In an emailed response attributed to her, the minister said she only became aware of the issue after it was brought to her attention in a letter from Joyce. Her office has confirmed the enforcement action was initiated locally, without the knowledge of the executive of Service NL or the Registrar of Motor Vehicles.
The email continued to say the Registrar of Motor Vehicles had previously issued an incorrect licence for the Joyces’ RTV and the registrar has been in touch with Joyce regarding this matter.
When asked if there were concerns or any reason for disciplinary action for the measures taken locally without authorization from the department’s executive or the registrar’s office, the emailed reply from department said actions taken were done so to ensure road safety and would not discuss any departmental human resource issues.
Last year, Joyce lost his cabinet position over accusations of harassing Gambin-Walsh. He was later cleared of the harassment allegations, but was found to have broken the code of conduct for elected officials in relation to trying to land an acquaintance a government job.
Joyce has since refused to rejoin the Liberal party if Gambin-Walsh is to also remain in caucus.
“I feel like I’m being singled out, given the history between us,” said Joyce.
The Western Star did not receive any reply from the premier’s office regarding Joyce’s allegations that Gambin-Walsh did not intervene to stop the practice of officers visiting his home in person to deal with this issue.