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This article was published 15/10/2018 (667 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Days after news broke about Emerson MLA Cliff Graydon making an inappropriate comment to a female staff member at the Manitoba legislature, the Free Press has learned the politician is reportedly involved in a second such incident.
Two sources described a recent exchange involving Graydon and a young female staffer. The Tory MLA was going to a meeting, when the staff member told him he had food on his face; Graydon asked whether she would lick it off, sources said.
Last week, a source said Graydon's membership with the PC caucus may come down to a vote, after stories surfaced Friday about the MLA telling a female staffer she could sit on his lap at a busy luncheon where there were few chairs.
When reached by phone at his constituency office Monday, Graydon refused to do an interview or reserve time to talk later.
"I’m sorry, but I have people in my office right now, and I’m working for the good people of Emerson right now, so I’m not doing an interview," he said before hanging up.
Over the weekend, Graydon told The Canadian Press the first incident was "dealt with satisfactorily, and I’m going to leave it at that."
The MLA, who is in his 70s and has held the Emerson riding since 2007, said he has no reason to resign and has not ruled out running for re-election in 2020.
Interview requests for Premier Brian Pallister and the minister responsible for the status of women, Rochelle Squires, were denied Monday.
“We have more work to do, for sure, from our perspective, in terms of how we deal with these situations." –Justice Minister Cliff Cullen
Justice Minister Cliff Cullen fielded reporters’ questions about Graydon’s situation, after an unrelated cannabis news conference.
"We have more work to do, for sure, from our perspective, in terms of how we deal with these situations. But at the end of the day, we’ve got to have a respectful workplace," he said.
When pressed about whether he thought Graydon’s lap-sitting comment was unacceptable, Cullen acknowledged he didn't know the specifics of what happened, though, "Certainly, we as elected officials, should be held to a higher standard."
Cullen said he doesn't believe the government is being too secretive in not explaining how the incident was allegedly resolved.
"I mean, we had a previous government that was very secretive. There was complete cover-ups. They told people that made allegations not to worry about it. We’ve taken the other approach. We actually are listening to these allegations. We’re taking positive action," the minister said.
Cullen said policies and procedures, namely the government’s "no wrong door" policy for reporting misconduct, were followed properly. He also said to expect more news about what happened "in the days to come," and referred questions about a possible caucus vote to communications staff.
PC caucus chairman Wayne Ewasko responded to a reporter's questions about Graydon's future -- and the alleged face-licking comment -- with a prepared statement.
"We are committed to ensuring a safe and respectful working environment at the Manitoba legislature. Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect at the workplace, and elected officials especially must hold themselves to the highest standard," Ewasko said by email.
"When it came to our attention that an inappropriate comment was made, we responded immediately in accordance with policies and procedures that respect the impacted individual’s right to privacy. Our primary goal is to protect the impacted individual who has requested that details of the matter remain confidential. Therefore we have no further comment at this time."
Manitoba Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont said the province ought to have an independent ethics commissioner to handle complaints such as those involving Graydon, because politicians cannot be impartial on such matters.
Lamont wants to see a "single-door" approach, as opposed to a "no wrong door" policy.
'Dealing with it 'internally' means sweeping it under the rug. Right now, the Manitoba Legislative Assembly has no single process for complaints of sexual harassment or conflict of interest. The regulations, investigation and enforcement range from weak to non–existent' – Liberal leader Dougald Lamont
"Dealing with it 'internally' means sweeping it under the rug. Right now, the Manitoba Legislative Assembly has no single process for complaints of sexual harassment or conflict of interest. The regulations, investigation and enforcement range from weak to non-existent," he said by email.
"These are not private matters. This is behaviour by public figures who make decisions about people’s lives: Manitobans and the people who work for them. We need to be held to a higher standard, but right now it appears there are no standards at all."
Updated on Tuesday, October 16, 2018 at 8:36 AM CDT: Corrects typo
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