MAYOR Brian Bowman says he’s cautious about how he awards honorary keys to the City of Winnipeg and believes there are cases in which that honour should be removed.
The mayor’s comments come in the wake of multiple serious sexual assault allegations facing Peter Nygard in a class-action lawsuit. The prominent business leader is a recipient of the ceremonial key, though the mayor said he believes that gesture could be rescinded.
Bowman said that if the charges against Nygard are proven in court, the international fashion mogul should lose the honour.
"The allegations that have been made are pretty grotesque. They are allegations. And if they’re proven in court, then I would request (the key) back," he said.
Nygard has denied all of the allegations, which have not been tested in court.
Former mayor Sam Katz awarded the key to Nygard back in 2008, one of 22 keys to the city Bowman believes his predecessor gave out.
The current mayor said he’s personally tried to be quite selective with the honour, granting keys to just four individuals, including former Royal Winnipeg Ballet dancer Evelyn Hart, former Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra conductor Alexander Micklethwaite, philanthropist David Foster and former Winnipeg Jet Teemu Selanne.
"It’s a very high honour and so it’s one that I’ve been very judicious in providing and I do look for individuals that I’ve bestowed (them upon to have) acted in a responsible way," said Bowman.
The mayor said he’s not aware of any previous occasion when Winnipeg asked for an honorary key to be returned.
Meanwhile, Nygard’s alma mater, the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, is following the fashion tycoon’s case very closely.
Nygard graduated from UND in 1964 with a business degree.
In a statement to the university campus, UND interim president Joshua Wynne and UND Alumni Association and Foundation CEO DeAnna Carlson Zink said they are aware of the allegations against Nygard.
"Know that UND and the UND Alumni Association & Foundation are investigating Mr. Nygard’s historical involvement with the University and Foundation. We will continue to monitor the investigation," the statement read. "While the details of this case are not yet known and our system of justice presumes innocence, the university remains committed to eradicating sexual violence and discrimination from both our campus and society."
Nygard was inducted into the UND Entrepreneur Hall of Fame in 2004. A picture of Nygard and a description of his accomplishments hangs on the wall on the second floor of the UND Center for Innovation among other award recipients.
— with files from the Grand Forks Herald
Born and raised in Winnipeg, Joyanne loves to tell the stories of this city, especially when politics is involved. Joyanne became the city hall reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press in early 2020.
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