Liberal leader calls on embattled Emerson MLA to step down
Groping allegation, if true, 'not fit behaviour' for MLA
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This article was published 15/11/2018 (1479 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Emerson MLA Cliff Graydon is facing a call to resign in the wake of an allegation he groped a woman last year.
Manitoba Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont said Thursday he believes Graydon should step down before the 2020 election.
The 72-year-old former Tory turned independent MLA has said he will not run again in the constituency he has held since 2007.
“It’s one of these things where I think that would be the right thing for him to do. I mean, he could have a long discussion with his constituents and see whether they really want to still support him,” Lamont said.
“I don’t want to rush to judgment, but certainly if these allegations are true, this isn’t the kind of behaviour — it’s not fit behaviour and we have to have higher standards.”
On Wednesday, The Canadian Press reported a longtime Manitoba Progressive Conservative Party member and volunteer said she was groped by Graydon during a PC party function at Tavern United in downtown Winnipeg in September 2017.
“I was standing to his left and… all of a sudden, his hand goes around me, and he has his hand on my bottom,” the woman said. “And not just on — he’s got a hold of me. He’s grabbed me and I couldn’t move.”
The woman said Graydon also propositioned her.
“He just kept saying, ‘Come back to my apartment’ and that he doesn’t have sex, he makes love,” she said.
The woman said she reported what Graydon allegedly said to party officials in February, but did not mention the alleged groping.
Graydon did not respond to a request for comment about the most recent allegation against him.
PC caucus chairman Wayne Ewasko confirmed the party was first made aware of allegations of inappropriate comments made by Graydon in early 2018, and said “disciplinary action was immediately taken to the satisfaction of the victim, including the member for Emerson undergoing sensitivity training.”
The party would not elaborate on what “disciplinary action” took place. Ewasko didn’t answer a question about whether Graydon should step down before 2020.
“We first learned of allegations of inappropriate physical contact made against the member for Emerson late last week. The individual involved has been offered any support they need,” Ewasko said in an emailed statement.
“Our government and caucus will not tolerate this form of conduct. We have a ‘no wrong door’ policy that supports victims of this unacceptable behaviour.”
Graydon was removed from the PC caucus on Oct. 22, and dismissed from the Manitoba Hydro board of directors shortly thereafter, after inappropriate comments he allegedly made to female political staffers were reported in the media.
The MLA acknowledged he’d asked two young women, on separate occasions, whether they’d like to sit on his knee. Graydon said he apologized. He also said he didn’t recall whether he asked a woman to lick food off his face, another allegation the Free Press reported.
In his first formal address to reporters last week, Graydon said his past remarks were a result of his “bad sense of humour” and he had “not knowingly touched anyone inappropriately.”
NDP Leader Wab Kinew wouldn’t speak much about the subject Thursday after his alternative throne speech, except to offer concern for the targets of Graydon’s reported behaviour.
“What I’m always reminded about when a story comes up is that there are young women at the centre of this story who have been harmed, and my thought is, I feel a lot of compassion for them. I feel a lot of empathy for them and I wish that this never happened to them. I wish the harm was never done,” Kinew said.
“In terms of being the leader of a party, this issue is very sensitive. It triggers people who have experienced trauma in their own life, and so I’m in no way going to play any sort of politics with it or offer any sort of comment that could be potentially misconstrued as me taking advantage.”
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Updated on Friday, November 16, 2018 6:18 AM CST: Final