OTTAWA — The federal NDP said it had no clue about years of rumours surrounding how one of its MPs behaved toward a Brandon veteran, as Ottawa confronts its first reported case of a female parliamentarian accused of sexual misconduct.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 9/5/2018 (1300 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

OTTAWA — The federal NDP said it had no clue about years of rumours surrounding how one of its MPs behaved toward a Brandon veteran, as Ottawa confronts its first reported case of a female parliamentarian accused of sexual misconduct.

"We’re in a new context, in a new climate," NDP leader Jagmeet Singh told reporters Wednesday.

On Tuesday morning, Glen Kirkland, now a realtor in Brandon, claimed Quebec MP Christine Moore plied him with alcohol, pressured him into sex and visited him twice in the Prairies without him asking, all in 2013. None of these allegations has been proven.

"She took her position of authority and she benefited from it," Kirkland said Tuesday.

Moore told media Wednesday that she will hold a press conference next week, and that she disputes some of the details of their first encounter.

The two met when Kirkland testified to the Commons defence committee on June 5, 2013, where he detailed a lack of support for the physical and mental injuries he suffered after a 2008 Taliban ambush.

Kirkland said Moore, who was a committee member, invited him to her office to further discuss the issue. Once there, he alleges that she insisted he drink alcohol even though he told the former nurse that he was taking painkillers and antidepressants.

But Moore noted his committee testimony only mentions insulin, and previous rounds of morphine and oxycodone. She told media her staff were in the room.

Moore is recorded as having voted in the House of Commons until 11:25 p.m. that day, and Kirkland told media he can’t recall whether the drinks happened before or after those votes. That evening the two had sex in his Ottawa hotel room. He said it was consensual, but that "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. At that point he rebuffed her advances.

Singh suspended Moore on Tuesday from her parliamentary duties, though she remains in the party and will attend caucus meetings.

Kirkland said in a Wednesday radio interview that MPs from various parties had known for years about his encounter with Moore. "Everyone knew about it," he said. "There was jokes."

He cited the gossip publication Frank Magazine, which first reported lurid details about the encounter in November 2014.

Singh, who took over the party seven months ago and has yet to seek a seat in Parliament, said the allegations were "absolutely unknown" to him and his leadership team before Tuesday.

Frank Magazine claimed in a later piece that Kirkland had been cheating on his wife, but he said the two had already commenced divorce proceedings.

It also produced a Minnesota court record showing Kirkland pleaded guilty to brawling in December 2013, and paid a $285 U.S. fine for the minor offence. Kirkland has said he was an "emotional mess" that year.

Liberal MP MaryAnn Mihychuk said Kirkland was right to come forward with his allegations if he sincerely felt uncomfortable, adding that the details still have to be examined. "We expect fair treatment for both sexes, so I think it was the right thing to do," said the MP for Kildonan and St. Paul.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld</p><p>NDP MP Christine Moore in the House of Commons in Ottawa.</p>


NDP MP Christine Moore in the House of Commons in Ottawa.

Mihychuk chairs the Indigenous-issues committee, and says there’s a clear line between the typical chatter MPs have with witnesses after testimony, and following them to their hotel. "The expectation is it stays purely professional."

Kirkland is the first publicly known man to accuse a female parliamentarian of harassing him, though there are other cases, according to a group that trains political parties and staffers about sexual violence.

"We've actually spoken to a few men who are survivors, who have experienced sexual violence in politics," said Arezoo Najibzadeh, head of the Young Women's Leadership Network. "The No. 1 thing they talk about is the fact there is not space to have these conversations."

Najibzadeh said men seeking support are stigmatized, because "toxic masculinity" dictates that they be emotionally and physically strong and constantly in control — she said this is also the reason why the vast majority of sexual violence is still perpetrated by men.

She said parliamentarians need to constantly evaluate whether the encounters they’re involved in are consensual, because of the outsized role they play in society.

"MPs' powers don't leave them the moment they step outside of Parliament Hill," said Najibzadeh, who experienced that dynamic firsthand as an intern on the Hill.

"It’s a matter of ethics."

Najibzadeh added that there are also men and non-binary people who have been harassed by men, but won’t go public because it would reveal that either the perpetrator or victim is gay.

Manitoba Sen. Marilou McPhedran has called out the Hill’s "whisper network" as part of a lack of accountability from parliamentarians.

In February, she launched a confidential email for self-identified victims of sexual assault and harassment. She also offered free advice from a lawyer, such as how to tell whether non-disclosure agreements actually bar them from sharing their experience. Some senators have chided McPhedran for going beyond an existing process to probe alleged abuse.

This week, the Senate is continuing debate on Bill C-65, which would encode harassment and sexual violence into the code governing parliamentarians and their staff, who fall outside provincial labour rules.

The bill comes after a range of #MeToo accusations, from the unproven allegation that a former MP forced a colleague's young staffer to perform oral sex, to Interlake-area MP James Bezan apologizing in December for quipping that posing for a photo with other MPs "isn't my idea of a threesome."

Winnipeg South Centre MP Jim Carr said he hopes the legislation will help turn the tide. "The safety of the people that work here is paramount to us, and all workforces should be harassment-free."

Najibzadeh said Bill C-65 takes some steps in the right direction, but there isn’t enough accountability for how MPs and Senators interact with people who aren’t their staff.

"When we're talking about sexual violence in politics, we should look at what happens in these more informal settings: at bars, at social events, and to folks who are testifying before committees or attending lobby weeks," she said.

"Anybody can abuse their power. But the conversation should really be about what are the roots of sexual violence."

Meanwhile, Moore’s office was still unable Wednesday to produce the register of 43 flights outside her riding that she had claimed in the 2013-14 year. Singh said looking into Moore’s use of parliamentary resources is "not part of my mandate right now."

The NDP later said Moore did not use taxpayer dollars to visit Kirkland in Brandon and Saskatchewan — but did not produce her travel record.