Province keeps lid on sexual misconduct claims against former MLA, adviser Former RCMP officer found credible evidence in internal probe

Allegations of sexual misconduct against a politician and a political adviser who worked at the legislature were serious enough that the province hired a former RCMP sex-crimes investigator to conduct an internal review.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 20/06/2019 (1259 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Allegations of sexual misconduct against a politician and a political adviser who worked at the legislature were serious enough that the province hired a former RCMP sex-crimes investigator to conduct an internal review.

An investigation by the Free Press has found the province appears intent on keeping a lid on what happened. It hasn’t reported the matter to police, despite the former Mountie determining there was sufficient evidence to determine credibility.

Sources say the allegations involve a senior adviser to Premier Brian Pallister’s cabinet who is no longer working for the party, and an NDP MLA who has since retired. The Free Press has chosen not to name the men. Repeated requests for comment and attempts to reach both men have been unsuccessful. No criminal charges have been brought against either man. The allegations have not been proven in court and both are presumed innocent.

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Premier Brian Pallister walks back to his office after talking to reporters in the rotunda after question period in the Manitoba Legislature earlier this year. 190522 - Wednesday, May 22, 2019.

Sources say the former NDP MLA was accused of being involved in installing hidden cameras under the desks of female staff members at the legislature.

At least two women said they found the recording devices hidden under their desks, sources say. This, in part, led the clerk of the executive council, Fred Meier, the province’s top bureaucrat, to retain the former Mountie.

In November 2018, a Tory adviser was suddenly dismissed from his duties after he was accused of drugging and sexually assaulting a female employee, sources say.

He is currently employed with a lobbying firm. On the company’s website, references are made to his past work with the provincial government. It remains unclear if his employer knows the alleged reason for his dismissal.

A request to interview Meier for this story was not granted. Instead, a provincial spokeswoman asked the Free Press to send written questions outlining the allegations. The Free Press complied.

“All human resources matters, including those related to allegations of misconduct, are private and confidential,” said Angela Jamieson, director of the provincial public affairs branch, in a written statement.

“Not only must we consider the privacy of the affected individuals, the law precludes employers from disclosing the names of a complainant, the respondent, or the circumstances relating to the complaint.”

When asked whether the province referred the cases to police, Jamieson said the government notifies law enforcement when “it is appropriate to do so.”

“This may be at the request of an affected individual, the Manitoba government, or both. In any case where the decision is made to notify the authorities, it is our practice to co-operate fully in any resulting investigations,” Jamieson said.

In a follow-up exchange, the Free Press asked how the province squared this response with its handling of a previous sexual harassment case: the allegation against former deputy minister Rick Mantey, a longtime Tory who was fired in mid-2017 after the accusation came to light.

After the Free Press uncovered the reason for his firing, the province confirmed a number of details about the alleged incident, including Mantey’s involvement and the existence of an investigation into his conduct.

“In the earlier instance you have referenced, we confirmed some information as a clarification to information that your paper had, and planned to release, in an effort to protect the victim,” Jamieson said, again in a written statement.

“We have implemented initiatives such as No Wrong Door, recently revised our respectful workplace policy, launched a sexual harassment awareness campaign, and provide ongoing mandatory respectful workplace training.”

The Manitoba legislature chamber, shown on Wednesday Jan. 6, 2016 THE CANADIAN PRESS/Steve Lambert

The provincial NDP declined to comment for this story, citing the fact the Free Press has not independently verified the veracity of the allegations and is relying on government sources for this report.

The accusation against the former MLA is not the first sexual misconduct allegation against a Manitoba New Democrat. In February 2018, several women accused former NDP cabinet minister Stan Struthers of inappropriate touching.

The accusations against Struthers, who was reportedly dubbed “minister tickles” by his colleagues, were repeatedly brought to the attention of senior NDP staff, who did not address the complaints to the satisfaction of the alleged victims.

The scandal was the first of its kind to hit Manitoba politics in the #MeToo era. The NDP later launched a commission to review how it handled the complaints.

More recently, in October 2018, then-Tory MLA Cliff Graydon, who now sits as an Independent, was accused by two women of sexual harassment.

In April, Tory MLA Nic Curry was accused of making inappropriate comments of a sexual nature to female staffers. He remains in the Tory caucus and has been absent from the legislature since the Free Press broke the story on April 9.

In May, Curry broke his silence, saying he was away on personal business but would return to his duties in the near future.

ryan.thorpe@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @rk_thorpe

Ryan Thorpe

Ryan Thorpe
Reporter

Ryan Thorpe likes the pace of daily news, the feeling of a broadsheet in his hands and the stress of never-ending deadlines hanging over his head.

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Updated on Thursday, June 20, 2019 7:48 PM CDT: subhead tweaked

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