Opposition accuses N.B. premier of failing to act on harassment allegations

The Opposition in New Brunswick is slamming the premier for not acting sooner when he learned of possible harassment allegations against the Speaker of the provincial legislature.

Progressive Conservative Leader Blaine Higgs said in a statement today that Premier Brian Gallant was told about the allegations on Feb. 17, but reconvened the legislature on March 13 with Speaker Chris Collins in the chair.

Higgs says the premier then called a supposedly "urgent" news conference Thursday evening to announce that Collins had been suspended from the Liberal caucus, a day-and-a-half after learning a former employee of the legislative assembly was going ahead with the allegations.

Gallant said he wanted to respect the former employee's request for time to consider their options and that there will be an independent, third-party investigation of the unspecified allegations.

Tory justice critic Hugh Flemming says the premier should have been more forthcoming about what is alleged to have happened and started an investigation into the matter as soon as he learned about it.

Collins, who was first elected to the provincial legislature in a 2007 byelection, did not respond to a request for comment.