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Emerson MLA Graydon admits making inappropriate remarks, won't seek re-election

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 17/10/2018 (665 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

After coming under scrutiny for making inappropriate comments to female staff in recent weeks, Tory MLA Cliff Graydon finally admitted wrongdoing and said he would not seek re-election.

In a statement sent to media on Wednesday, Graydon also announced he would go on medical leave, effective immediately.

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>PC MLA for Emerson, Cliff Graydon.</p>

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

PC MLA for Emerson, Cliff Graydon.

"Recently, I made inappropriate remarks to a staff member at the Manitoba legislature. I have apologized fully and unequivocally to the impacted individual for my remarks, which the individual has accepted," the MLA for Emerson wrote.

"In addition, I would like to offer the same full and unequivocal apology to my colleagues, my constituents, and, most of all, my family, all of whom expect and deserve a greater level of respect than I have demonstrated.

The Free Press has reported that sources said Graydon made two explicit comments to female political staff recently: suggesting a female staff member sit on his lap at a busy PC party luncheon with few chairs; and asking a female staffer to lick food off his face on a separate occasion.

Graydon, who is in his 70s, refused to do interviews with the Free Press on the topic, but told the Canadian Press over the weekend he believed the matter was "dealt with satisfactorily" and he had no reason to leave his job.

Graydon's statement

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"Recently, I made inappropriate remarks to a staff member at the Manitoba Legislature. I have apologized fully and unequivocally to the impacted individual for my remarks, which the individual has accepted. In addition, I would like to offer the same full and unequivocal apology to my colleagues, my constituents, and, most of all, my family, all of whom expect and deserve a greater level of respect than I have demonstrated.

In light of this incident, and after a great deal of contemplation, I have also made a number of decisions that I wish to share publicly.

I acknowledge that everyone has the right to a safe and respectful workplace. As such, I will be taking additional, more comprehensive sensitivity and respectful workplace counselling, to be determined by caucus leadership.

I have come to the decision that, while I plan to serve the remainder of the current term, I will not be seeking re-election in the next provincial election in 2020. Representing the good, hard-working people of the Emerson constituency since 2007 has been one of the greatest honours imaginable but, after over a decade of service in the Manitoba Legislature, it is time for me to move on to the next chapter of life.

I am also announcing that, effective immediately, I will be a taking a medical leave of absence. While the nature of my health concerns are private, taking care of my health in the short term is the best decision for my family and I in the long term."

Four days later, Graydon said he would undergo additional sensitivity training at work.

"I acknowledge that everyone has the right to a safe and respectful workplace. As such, I will be taking additional, more comprehensive sensitivity and respectful workplace counselling, to be determined by caucus leadership," he said.

Graydon already undertook sensitivity training last winter after getting in trouble over comments on social media.

In February, he apologized for calling asylum seekers "a drain on society" on Twitter and for retweeting posts that called Justin Trudeau a "scumbag" and "turdeau."

It's unclear whether Graydon will stay on as a board member with Manitoba Hydro, which pays him an additional $7,500 per year.

Public accounts released last month show Graydon made $97,158 as an MLA during the last fiscal year ending March 31. He has represented Emerson since 2007.

Premier Brian Pallister was unavailable for comment about Graydon’s announcements Wednesday, his press secretary said.

PC caucus chairman Wayne Ewasko acknowledged Graydon's statement and repeated that the caucus would meet next week for further discussion.

NDP Leader Wab Kinew said he has questions about what’s going on, including whether Graydon will remain on the Hydro board and in the PC caucus.

"And probably most importantly, where is the premier in all this? The premier should be showing leadership to show Manitobans that he takes the issue of sexual harassment in his workplace seriously," Kinew said.

"What we’ve seen so far from the Conservatives is that they appear to have put the well-being of this over-the-hill MLA ahead of the well-being of a young staffer in their employ."

Kinew also took issue with the fact Graydon said he was going on medical leave.

"There really isn’t such a thing as medical leave for MLAs, right? You either just don’t show up for work and continue collecting a paycheque or you resign," he said.

Political scientist Paul Thomas said political parties are dealing with a new climate when it comes to doling out discipline for behaviour such as sexual harassment, and each incident needs to be handled on a case-by-case basis.

"It’s a sensitive era we live in, and men of a certain age, like yours truly, are not always well equipped to cope with some of the requirements to be respectful and careful about things you say," Thomas said.

"I guess until there’s a whole generational turnover in the political class, we’ll have these incidents still coming back."

jessica.botelho@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @_jessbu

History

Updated on Wednesday, October 17, 2018 at 5:37 PM CDT: full writethru

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