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Duo named to hear sex-misconduct reports within NDP

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Kemlin Nembhard was named one of the commissioners to investigate reports of sexual misconduct from staff and elected officials.</p>

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Kemlin Nembhard was named one of the commissioners to investigate reports of sexual misconduct from staff and elected officials.

NDP sexual misconduct commissioner Kemlin Nembhard is all too familiar with what goes on within government.

"As a woman of colour, a woman generally, a woman goes through this every day," Nembhard told reporters Tuesday. Government is so stressful and competitive that the environment is not conducive to good decisions, said Nembhard, a former civil servant with a long history in community and inner city organizations.

Provincial New Democrats have named Sandra Delaronde and Nembhard as commissioners to investigate reports of sexual misconduct from staff and elected officials.

The two will make policy recommendations to establish a safe and respectful political environment, but they won't release names.

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NDP sexual misconduct commissioner Kemlin Nembhard is all too familiar with what goes on within government.

"As a woman of colour, a woman generally, a woman goes through this every day," Nembhard told reporters Tuesday. Government is so stressful and competitive that the environment is not conducive to good decisions, said Nembhard, a former civil servant with a long history in community and inner city organizations.

Provincial New Democrats have named Sandra Delaronde and Nembhard as commissioners to investigate reports of sexual misconduct from staff and elected officials.

The two will make policy recommendations to establish a safe and respectful political environment, but they won't release names.

It's completely confidential, Nembhard told reporters Tuesday. "This isn't a legal process, this is an internal process," she said.

Anyone who wants to be heard can contact a confidentiality-guaranteed email address, then meet privately with the two commissioners. Delaronde and Nembhard will let people know to whom they can turn next, be it police, the Manitoba Labour Board, or other sources, she said. "We would encourage people to go through those processes."

Nembhard emphasized that the commissioners will not pass on to leader Wab Kinew or the party any names of alleged perpetrators, including MLAs. They will contact anyone accused and offer the chance to come in and talk about it with the commissioners, but the alleged perpetrators' names will be kept confidential, she said.

Asked if any allegation could be so egregious that Nembhard or Delaronde would feel compelled to report it to the police, she said it would always be left up to the complainant to do so.

John Woods / The Canadian Press</p><p>Sandra Delaronde (MMIWG) Coalition Co-chair, speaks at a press conference calling for a re-organization of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Winnipeg, Wednesday, July 12, 2017.</p>

John Woods / The Canadian Press

Sandra Delaronde (MMIWG) Coalition Co-chair, speaks at a press conference calling for a re-organization of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Winnipeg, Wednesday, July 12, 2017.

"We need to create an environment where people are comfortable coming forward," Nembhard said.

Delaronde, the co-chair of the Coalition for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, and the executive director of the Indigenous Women’s Leadership Institute, was not available Tuesday.

Nembhard said they won't have jurisdiction to initiate examinations of previous sexual misconduct situations involving the provincial NDP.

The NDP caucus pushed out The Maples MLA Mohinder Saran early in 2017 after he was accused in two cases of sexual harassment.

The commission is the direct result of women coming forward in recent weeks to accuse former cabinet minister Stan Struthers of numerous incidents of inappropriate sexual touching.

Nembhard said that meetings would all be private, and recordings would be destroyed after the commission reports. She and Delaronde won't travel outside Winnipeg, but could hold meetings through teleconferencing.

Joelle Saltel-Allard, one of the former communications staff who first went public with allegations about Struthers, lauded the NDP's actions.

"I’m happy to see the NDP moving forward with this commission and I’m hoping it will identify the systemic failures that led to the mishandling of sexual misconduct during my time as an employee. I do plan on contacting them to share my story, as I think it is important for them to know the circumstances that led to my coming forward," she said.

"In conjunction with the recent announcement from the provincial government, I’m hopeful there will be real change in how sexual misconduct in the political world will be handled in the future," said Saltel-Allard.

nick.martin@freepress.mb.ca

Nick Martin

Nick Martin
Education Reporter

Nick Martin is the bearded guy we keep hidden away at the back of the newsroom. He is now in his fourth decade working in daily newspapers.

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Updated on Tuesday, February 27, 2018 at 4:36 PM CST: Adds photo

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