POLITICS

Ex-cabinet minister charged with assault completes adult diversion program

10/24/2013 06:25 EDT | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST
HALIFAX - A Nova Scotia judge has accepted that former provincial cabinet minister Percy Paris has completed an adult diversion program, which means the charges laid against him in May after he assaulted another politician have been withdrawn.

Paris was charged with assault and uttering threats after an incident involving Liberal member Keith Colwell.

The 66-year-old Paris resigned as minister of economic and rural development shortly after, saying he lost his composure during the incident outside a washroom at the legislature.

Paris remained the NDP member for the Halifax-area riding of Waverley-Fall River-Beaverbank until he was defeated in the Oct. 8 general election. His replacement, Liberal Bill Horne, was sworn in Thursday.

The adult diversion program is intended as an alternative to the court process for minor criminal offences where the offender must accept responsibility for his or her actions and the victim avoids the stress of legal proceedings.

The program, in operation in Nova Scotia since 1996, is common for those without a criminal record who are facing charges related to non-violent crimes.

Corrections officials had the option of requesting counselling, a formal apology, community service, a mediation hearing or financial compensation, among other measures.

A Justice Department spokeswoman said Thursday what Corrections officials had asked Paris to do as part of the program could not be released, citing privacy concerns.

Colwell said he was assaulted by Paris on May 9 as the two were arguing in a washroom next to the legislative chamber.

Paris, who described himself as the only member of the legislature of African descent, told reporters at the time that debate in the house that day concerning the province's black community had irritated him. He said he had a "heated exchange" with Colwell while the two were near the doorway of the washroom.

Having met the requirements of the diversion program, Paris will have no criminal record.