Former cabinet minister Ron Lemieux was focus of sexual misconduct investigation

Ron Lemieux was the focus of a civil service investigation while he served as an NDP cabinet minister after a hidden camera was discovered under the desk of a woman he worked with at the legislature.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 21/06/2019 (1151 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Ron Lemieux was the focus of a civil service investigation while he served as an NDP cabinet minister after a hidden camera was discovered under the desk of a woman he worked with at the legislature.

The civil service investigation did not determine guilt or innocence and no formal disciplinary action was taken against him.

However, sources tell the Free Press it was not a singular event. At least two women found hidden cameras under their desks at the legislature during Lemieux’s lengthy career in provincial politics.

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Former NDP MLA Ron Lemieux was first elected as MLA in 1999 and retired in 2016. He held several cabinet positions in that time.

The incident involving Lemieux, the former MLA for Dawson Trail, resulted in the current Progressive Conservative government hiring a former RCMP sex-crimes investigator to conduct an internal probe.

This was one of two sexual misconduct allegations at the Manitoba legislature reported by the Free Press Thursday.

More recently, a senior adviser to Premier Brian Pallister’s cabinet was accused of drugging and sexually assaulting a female colleague, sources say. He was dismissed shortly after the allegations came to light in November 2018.

John Woods / The Canadian press A civil service investigation, of which Lemieux was the focus, did not determine guilt or innocence and no formal disciplinary action was taken against him.

During the investigation into Lemieux’s alleged conduct, sources say the ex-Mountie found sufficient evidence to deem the allegations credible.

Neither the former NDP government nor the current PC government notified law enforcement about the accusations against Lemieux. The current government did not inform police about the sexual assault allegedly perpetrated by the senior adviser.

Repeated attempts to contact both men for comment have been unsuccessful. They have not been charged with crimes in connection with the accusations. 

Lemieux, who was first elected as MLA in 1999 and retired from politics in 2016, is not the first former New Democrat MLA to be accused of sexual misconduct.

And like the numerous accusations of inappropriate touching levied at Stan Struthers, who was reportedly dubbed “minister tickles” by his colleagues and whose time as a cabinet minister overlapped with Lemieux’s, the party’s handling of these allegations is under the microscope.

On Friday, Manitoba Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont released a statement calling on Pallister and NDP Leader Wab Kinew to address the allegations.

“The story in today’s Winnipeg Free Press raises extremely disturbing allegations that must be addressed by the premier, by the leader of the NDP, and by the police. These go far beyond allegations of inappropriate or unacceptable workplace behaviour,” Lamont said.

“These are not issues to be handled quietly and privately by the clerk of the executive council and retired RCMP investigators. These are criminal allegations and they should be handed over to the police and the courts.”

In an interview with the Free Press Friday, Kinew said he was unaware that a civil service investigation had taken place into allegations against Lemieux under the former NDP government.

Speaking generally, he said police should be notified if there is evidence of serious wrongdoing by a public-office holder. However, he said he couldn’t address the Lemieux case since he does not know the details.

Kinew said he was unaware if anyone in the NDP has been in touch with Lemieux and that he has instructed his staff to investigate what happened and when.

“I was not previously aware of it, so I have asked my staff to look into it. It is important to me because the allegation that’s been reported is very serious and it concerns me,” Kinew said.

“In my time as leader, I’ve tried to deal with similar issues with the necessary respect, but also judiciousness to ensure these issues are handled fairly but also compassionately for people who have been treated poorly.”

A request to interview Pallister was declined. Instead, his press secretary released a short statement, which did not directly address any of the questions the Free Press submitted to the premier’s office.

The statement said the Manitoba government takes all accusations of workplace misconduct “very seriously” and pointed out the province recently updated its respectful workplace policy based on cross-Canada best practices.

A spokesman for the Winnipeg Police Service said he was unable to say whether the provincial government would have a legal obligation to notify law enforcement if it had evidence pointing to sexual misconduct in the workplace.

Instead, he directed the Free Press to the Manitoba government’s respectful workplace policy, adding different organizations have different requirements.

However, the spokesman said the police service always encourages individuals or agencies who believe they have information about a possible crime, to notify law enforcement so police can determine whether a formal investigation is warranted.

In addition to the allegations against Lemieux, Struthers, and the former Tory senior adviser, there have been other sexual misconduct scandals at the legislature in recent years.

In mid-2017, former deputy minister Rick Mantey, a longtime Tory appointee, was fired after being accused of sexual harassment.

In October 2018, ex-Tory MLA Cliff Graydon, who now sits as an Independent, was accused of sexual harassment by two women.

More recently, in April 2019, Tory MLA Nic Curry was accused of making inappropriate comments of a sexual nature to female staffers. He remains in Tory caucus and has been absent from the legislature since the Free Press broke the story on April 9.

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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