April 24, 2019

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New Tory MLA accused of inappropriate behaviour involving female staff

Progressive Conservative MLA Nic Curry has become embroiled in a controversy involving inappropriate behaviour with female staff.

Multiple government and party sources confirmed the rookie Kildonan MLA — who surprised political observers last week by announcing he was leaving politics after one term — has been the subject of two separate complaints by female staff for using sexual language in their presence.

The sources confirmed the first incident took place in January 2018, and involved Curry discussing his preferred method of masturbation. A complaint was lodged and investigated internally by the PC government.

Details of the discipline handed down are not known, but sources said the resolution was considered satisfactory by the complainant. Curry was allowed to remain in the Tory caucus.

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Progressive Conservative MLA Nic Curry has become embroiled in a controversy involving inappropriate behaviour with female staff.

Multiple government and party sources confirmed the rookie Kildonan MLA — who surprised political observers last week by announcing he was leaving politics after one term — has been the subject of two separate complaints by female staff for using sexual language in their presence.

Nic Curry, MLA for Kildonan.

Nic Curry, MLA for Kildonan.

The sources confirmed the first incident took place in January 2018, and involved Curry discussing his preferred method of masturbation. A complaint was lodged and investigated internally by the PC government.

Details of the discipline handed down are not known, but sources said the resolution was considered satisfactory by the complainant. Curry was allowed to remain in the Tory caucus.

A second complaint against Curry was made following the tabling of the provincial budget March 7.

A staff member complained the Winnipeg MLA had repeatedly talked about sexual matters in her presence. That complaint is still ongoing and has not yet been resolved, the sources said.

In an interview Tuesday with the Free Press — before full details of the allegations were known — Curry was asked why he was leaving politics after giving signs he would stand for re-election. Curry referred to a statement posted on Facebook, where he said family considerations had prompted him to rethink another four years in politics.

"Well, my daughter turns two tomorrow, and this job takes a lot away from her," Curry said. "And I can't see myself being the father and husband that I want to be and winning an election. And I can do one or the other, but I'm going to choose my family over that."

Repeated attempts to contact Curry for additional comment on the specifics of the allegations went unanswered.

Government communications directed all questions about Curry to PC caucus communications.

A Tory caucus spokesman issued a statement via email refusing to answer any questions related to the allegations against Curry. The spokesman cited the province's Respectful Workplace Policy, which states the government is prohibited from making any comment about allegations of this nature.

The policy states the province "will not disclose the name of a complainant, alleged respondent or the circumstances related to the issue to any person except where the disclosure is necessary to investigate, take corrective action, or is required by law."

The caucus spokesman refused to explain why the Tory party's treatment of Curry stands in stark contrast to the approach used when dealing with Emerson MLA Cliff Graydon.

After news reports detailed several instances involving female staff, the PC caucus expelled Graydon in October 2018 for what chairman Wayne Ewasko described as a "pattern of inappropriate behaviour."

The Tory caucus spokesman refused to say Tuesday whether the allegations against Curry had been investigated or reviewed by caucus, and whether the caucus had deliberated and voted on whether to allow him to remain as a sitting member of the PC party.

Curry was a surprise winner in the 2016 Manitoba election.

A commissioned officer in the Canadian Armed Forces reserves, Curry had worked in his family's product development and marketing business before making the jump to politics. To the surprise of many within his own party, he won a close battle with veteran NDP MLA Dave Chomiak, who held Kildonan for 26 years.

Since joining the Tory caucus, Curry has kept a fairly low profile.

With Kildonan scheduled to disappear in the next election, thanks to electoral boundary redistribution, sources said he had been readying to seek re-election in the new riding of McPhillips.

However, on April 3, Tory MLA Shannon Martin announced via Twitter he was seeking the nomination in McPhillips. (Boundary redistribution had also left Martin, previously the MLA for rural Morris, without a seat.)

Party sources confirmed Martin's announcement came as a shock to Curry, who reached out to members of the PC caucus to see if he could garner support to block Martin. He discovered such support would be hard to come by.

Some five hours after Martin's announcement, Curry took to Facebook to say he was leaving politics.

Graydon's ejection came largely as a result of his transgressions being publicized by news organizations. Prior to that publicity, the PC party had not taken any formal action to review his place in caucus.

It seemed to echo the mistakes made by the former NDP government, which was aware of multiple misconduct allegations against former minister Stan Struthers, but allowed him to remain a member of cabinet and caucus.

Similarly, in opposition, the NDP allowed Maples MLA Mohinder Saran to remain in caucus despite at least two complaints being lodged against him for inappropriate behaviour. Saran was only subject to caucus scrutiny and ejection after the news media revealed his transgressions.

dan.lett@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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