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Saran's fate awaits NDP caucus meeting

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES</p><p>NDP MLA Mohinder Saran, suspended from caucus, will earn his fate after a meeting Tuesday.</p>

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

NDP MLA Mohinder Saran, suspended from caucus, will earn his fate after a meeting Tuesday.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 3/1/2017 (1245 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The diminished NDP caucus is tentatively scheduled to meet next Tuesday at the legislature to decide the future of suspended MLA Mohinder Saran.

The NDP confirmed Tuesday the longtime MLA for The Maples — who has been the subject of two allegations of sexual harassment — will learn whether he will be readmitted to the caucus or face further discipline that could go as far as permanent expulsion from the party.

Sources said the meeting will also be an opportunity to get greater insight into how interim leader Flor Marcelino handled the scandal. It appeared that after learning of the most recent allegation against Saran, Marcelino waited days — if not weeks — before revealing the details to the other members of elected caucus.

Sources said Marcelino had tried to mediate some sort of resolution between Saran and the young woman who made the allegation. That raised the spectre of the interim leader attempting to persuade the woman not to make a formal complaint, an allegation Marcelino has since denied.

Sources said members of caucus — reduced to 12 with Saran's suspension and the imminent resignation of Point Douglas MLA Kevin Chief — are still unclear about exactly what transpired before the allegations became public.

"People are very, very concerned and don't really know what happened here," said one well-placed party source. "The meeting on the 10th will allow people to get all the information they need and make an informed decision on Saran's future."

Caucus has been divided on the issue of Saran's future, according to sources. New Democrat MLAs Nahanni Fontaine, Wab Kinew, Andrew Swan and Matt Wiebe have been pushing for a resolution to deal with the matter head-on and decisively, explained a party source.

Some within that faction want to see Saran expelled from caucus, said a source who did not want to single out any specific names.

Meanwhile, sources say other members of caucus such as Jim Maloway, Rob Altemeyer, Ted Marcelino and Flor Marcelino have shown more loyalty to Saran, as well as concern the party could lose The Maples in the future or in the event of a byelection if Saran resigns. Saran narrowly won his seat on April 19, with only 127 votes between him and Progressive Conservative candidate Kaur Sidhu.

It's unclear which side, if any, former premier Greg Selinger — who Saran backed in the 2015 NDP leadership race and helped deliver 117 delegate votes from The Maples — has taken.

Saran was not suspended immediately following the official complaint. Marcelino, who was the first person in the caucus to learn of the allegation, withheld that information for a period of time. When it was finally revealed to caucus the week of the throne speech, sources said she still had no clear idea what to do about it.

The recent allegation against Saran became public in mid-December. Sources confirmed that a young woman who had been working in Saran's constituency office had filed an official human resources complaint alleging sexual harassment. The woman has since been transferred to another job, away from Saran's staff.

Marcelino's performance underwent further scrutiny when she inadvertently identified the complainant in an email erroneously sent to the Free Press. Multiple sources within the party believe her handling of the Saran situation has put her leadership ability into question.

Saran has not made any public comment about the allegation. His lawyer released a statement in December indicating that the veteran MLA was undergoing sensitivity training and expected, upon completion, to be readmitted to caucus.

dan.lett@freepress.mb.ca

kristin.annable@freepress.mb.ca

Dan Lett

Dan Lett
Columnist

Born and raised in and around Toronto, Dan Lett came to Winnipeg in 1986, less than a year out of journalism school with a lifelong dream to be a newspaper reporter.

Read full biography

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