Premier on harassment
Excerpts from Brian Pallister's scrum Wednesday with reporters:
Q: Are you aware of any sexual harassment complaints, sexual misconduct, any complaints, have they crossed your desk? Whether it be involving political staffers, MLAs, the whole gamut.
A: Of what nature, exactly?
Q: Whether it be complaints against a minister, a deputy minister, something that you’ve heard under your government.
A: Yes I am. I am also aware that the complainant should have the opportunity to have those things dealt with the way they would want them dealt with.
Q: Sorry, could you elaborate a bit? I know privacy concerns, but…
A: I would just say in any of these situations, it is critical that the complainant have the opportunity to be heard and respected and that is what we’re after. But they also should have the opportunity to have the issue dealt with in a way that was appropriate. So we have done that and we’ll continue to do that. To respect the person who raised the issue, to hear their concern, to deal with it. To deal with it frankly, I also believe — and I’m stealing a little bit of my next week’s thing here — but I will say that it’s important that political staff don’t feel they can only be heard on the political side.
Q: Was it somebody from government saying somebody from the political side who made the complaint? Without saying who, specifically.
A: This is the tricky part because I think out of respect for the complainant, they would not want me to give details away. I’m hesitant to say too much more. I would only say yes, there have been concerns expressed by civil servants and by government political staff about issues and they’ve been raised and I’ve been made aware of them. And that’s changed from the way it was in the past, so I’m making you aware that those concerns were raised and I can also tell you with great confidence that they were dealt with and they were dealt with to the satisfaction of the complainant.
And I think that’s the important difference between the way we’re doing things now and the way they were not done in the past – where concerns were raised but not taken to the premier. The premier could say, ‘I wasn’t aware.’ And you’ve just heard that. You’ve heard that and media, you’ve made reports of that as recently as yesterday.
Q: Was this a single complaint? Was this involving sexual harassment?
A: No, no, I’m not going to elaborate on the details because I think that would be inappropriate. I’ll only say that I’m not ever going to be put in the position or put you in the position where I’m going to say, ‘No, I don’t know.’ I know, I know of concerns. They’ve been dealt with and they’ve been dealt with in the appropriate way to protect the complainant from a repeat of that type of incident. That’s the key thing that we want to make sure happens in the future.
Q: Can you say how many concerns were brought to you?
A: Well, do you want me to do a score sheet on an ongoing basis? I don’t know if that’d be helpful.
Q: But is there that many that it would require that?
A: Two. I’m aware of two incidents since we came to government.
Q: Were they about the same person?
A: No, two separate incidents.