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This article was published 19/7/2018 (548 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
OTTAWA — The Quebec MP accused of sexually harassing a Manitoba veteran was cleared of wrongdoing Thursday by an independent investigation, leaving the man who brought forward the allegations "sickened" by the outcome.
Glen Kirkland, an Afghan-war veteran and realtor living in Brandon, claimed in 2013, NDP MP Christine Moore used her power to pursue him sexually. She countered, saying they had a consensual relationship.
None of the allegations have been proven.
Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh announced Thursday an independent investigator concluded claims against Moore "were not supported by the evidence," though Kirkland did not participate in the probe.
Singh said the "thorough" probe "included interviews with several witnesses," though he wouldn't specify how many. Singh received the "very credible" report, of which Moore has only read a small part.
Kirkland told the Free Press the finding "sickened" him.
"It's pretty disturbing," he said Thursday.
In May, Kirkland claimed Moore plied him with alcohol, pressured him into sex, and visited him twice in the Prairies without him asking.
The two met in June 2013, when Kirkland testified to a Commons committee about a lack of support for the physical and mental injuries he suffered after a 2008 Taliban ambush.
Kirkland claimed Moore, who was a committee member, invited him to her office to further discuss the issue. Once there, he alleges she insisted he drink alcohol, even though he told the former nurse that he was taking painkillers and antidepressants — a claim Moore disputes, noting his committee testimony only mentions insulin.
Moore has since produced a photo of herself and Kirkland smiling on a patio that same day. Kirkland said they had consensual sex, but "someone took advantage of their position and authority."
Kirkland claimed Moore then tried pursuing a relationship with him, visiting him during a golf trip in Saskatchewan and showing up unannounced at his Brandon home. He said he rejected her advance; she said the two had discussed a future together. By 2014, they’d stopped speaking.
The allegations had put Moore as the first woman on Parliament Hill to stare down an allegation of misconduct, after a series of harassment allegations against multiple men — two of whom saw Moore as the accuser.
Moore and Kirkland dispute who had invited whom, and whether the encounter was consensual.
Kirkland said regardless of the Commons code of conduct, it was wrong for an MP to have sex with someone who’d just given emotional testimony: "I was a witness, she was the judge and jury, and we had sex. How is that appropriate in any equal — she was literally my boss," he said in a brief interview.
But Moore said the opposite, because though parliamentary committees can compel witnesses, it’s rarely done, and witnesses often choose not to answer questions. "In terms of public opinion, witnesses have more authority over an MP, because if you have a position, the expert comes and they (can) destroy what you're saying," she said.
The Kirkland incident follows two cases where Moore has accused male MPs of inappropriate behaviour.
In January, Moore emailed the entire NDP caucus with allegations Saskatchewan MP Erin Weir had made "too many women" feel uncomfortable. An investigator found Weir had failed to read social cues, but Singh only removed him from the party when he dismissed the claims as politically motivated.
In 2014, Moore was one of two NDP MPs who accused two Liberal counterparts of sexual misconduct. The reported incidents lead Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau to boot Scott Andrews and Massimo Pacetti from the party, a year before his government took office.
"There are a number of tools that we have now to analyze (things) that were not present (in 2014)," Moore said. For example, mandatory harassment training for House of Commons staff could help prevent future incidents, and navigate an issue that pervades society.
Yet, Moore stands by her own judgment in her encounter with Kirkland, which she claims he initiated.
"There are a number of relationships that have started in the House that are between MPs and people (within) the political world. And there are examples of people who are now married and happy together."
Moore also said she’s proceeding with a defamation suit filed against Kirkland and three media outlets, because her name was tarnished thanks to social media. "Things spread really quickly, so I think that's why it's important... to verify allegations, to make sure it's balanced," she said.
Kirkland said he did not participate in the investigation ordered by the NDP, on the advice of his lawyer, whose name he declined to provide.
NDP chief of staff Willy Blomme wrote investigator Deborah Jelly decided to proceed "based on the detailed allegations he made in the media." The party would not say whether she spoke with anyone in Manitoba.
Moore said when she’d accused others, she’d wanted the investigations to wrap up as soon as possible — but that being the accused made every day go by slowly. The party had removed her from virtually all duties as MP, and she had to cancel attending a major conference in Berlin, because she had no clue when the probe would be over.
"You have no idea of the timeline, it's really difficult to plan," she said.
On Thursday, Singh reinstated Moore to all her previous roles.
In the age where more people feel empowered to bring forth accusations of sexual misconduct, Moore said Parliament Hill is grappling with how to respond appropriately.
"From every incident, we have to look at ourselves and find ways to avoid (making) the same mistakes," she said. "There is no textbook for party leaders; there is no textbook for the media.
"Nobody, at this point, knows how to handle it."