December 15, 2018

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Struthers accusers want Selinger to go

Ex-NDP staffers say focus should be on sexual misconduct allegations against former cabinet minister – not party infighting

Joelle Saltel-Allard, former press secretary for Stan Struthers, the former minister accused of sexual misconduct, says it’s time for ex-premier Greg Selinger to walk the walk and resign.

TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FRESS

Joelle Saltel-Allard, former press secretary for Stan Struthers, the former minister accused of sexual misconduct, says it’s time for ex-premier Greg Selinger to walk the walk and resign.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 15/2/2018 (302 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Two women who have accused Stan Struthers of sexual misconduct are frustrated because they say Wab Kinew and Greg Selinger are putting their personal political dispute ahead of the harassment allegations.

Joelle Saltel-Allard and Shannon VanRaes want Selinger to resign as MLA for St. Boniface, but said Kinew’s demand that Selinger quit his seat is creating a distraction.

“When powerful men choose to debate the nuances of plausible deniability, rather than accept they are both the architects and groundskeepers of structural imbalances, it only serves to further marginalize women who speak out,” VanRaes told the Free Press Thursday.

Saltel-Allard said that, “I’m frustrated that we’re even talking about Greg Selinger vs. Wab Kinew, about the NDPs problems past and present, instead of talking about sexual misconduct and how I and others were treated as female NDP staffers.”

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 15/2/2018 (302 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Two women who have accused Stan Struthers of sexual misconduct are frustrated because they say Wab Kinew and Greg Selinger are putting their personal political dispute ahead of the harassment allegations.

Joelle Saltel-Allard and Shannon VanRaes want Selinger to resign as MLA for St. Boniface, but said Kinew’s demand that Selinger quit his seat is creating a distraction.

"When powerful men choose to debate the nuances of plausible deniability, rather than accept they are both the architects and groundskeepers of structural imbalances, it only serves to further marginalize women who speak out," VanRaes told the Free Press Thursday.

Saltel-Allard said that, "I’m frustrated that we’re even talking about Greg Selinger vs. Wab Kinew, about the NDPs problems past and present, instead of talking about sexual misconduct and how I and others were treated as female NDP staffers."

The former NDP communications staffers went public a week ago, alleging they were inappropriately touched by Struthers, then a cabinet minister, and ignored by the party’s top brass.

On Tuesday, NDP Leader Kinew asked Selinger to resign his seat over what had happened under the watch of the former premier and his predecessor, Gary Doer. Selinger refused to go, called a news conference, and said he would meet with his riding association to discuss what he called "a transition process" for his exit from politics. But he refused to provide any timelines.

VanRaes said she got a call from Selinger Thursday morning.

"Wab Kinew has not reached out to me, but I did speak with Greg Selinger by phone this morning. My position is that Mr. Selinger should resign," she said Thursday afternoon. "That someone could have worked with Stan Struthers for any period of time and been unaware of his proclivities defies belief."

PHIL HOSSACK / Winnipeg Free Press FILES</p><p>Shannon VanRaes, who has accused former cabinet minister Stan Struthers of groping her, says NDP infighting is further marginalizing women who have alleged Struthers harassed them.</p>

PHIL HOSSACK / Winnipeg Free Press FILES

Shannon VanRaes, who has accused former cabinet minister Stan Struthers of groping her, says NDP infighting is further marginalizing women who have alleged Struthers harassed them.

Saltel-Allard also wants Selinger to go.

"I think that Greg’s actions are a distraction. I’ve said from the beginning that I want them not just to talk the talk, but walk the walk. Greg’s resignation would have been walking the walk," she said Thursday.

"I haven’t spoken to Wab, but Selinger did reach out to me and apologized," said Saltel-Allard. "He sent an email, but I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to speak to him directly. He also reached out through (her husband) Matt."

Selinger and Kinew were both silent again Thursday. Selinger won’t say when he’ll meet with his riding association to discuss his next move, and Kinew won’t say when the caucus will meet to discuss what to do with Selinger.

The provincial party has refused to give interviews on the infighting, but it did tell its members online Thursday that progress is being made on Kinew’s plans to create a commission headed by women to investigate sexual harassment within the party and legislature.

Saltel-Allard says she’s lost count of the times Struthers touched her inappropriately when she was his press secretary from 2009 to 2011.

VanRaes says the ex-cabinet minister put his hand under her skirt and tried to grope her while the two were the sole passengers on a small plane flying to and from northern Manitoba for a government event. She says Struthers also tried pulling her foot towards his crotch in a separate incident.

VanRaes went to her boss Jay Branch, then head of cabinet communications, who took it to chief of staff Michael Balagus, only to bring back orders that VanRaes was to ‘suck it up.’

Balagus has denied ever being told about any complaints, but last Friday was placed on indefinite leave as chief of staff and election campaign chair by Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath, who was ‘shocked’ to hear that women said Balagus ignored their complaints. Branch has not responded to numerous interview requests.

nick.martin@freepress.mb.ca

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History

Updated on Thursday, February 15, 2018 at 9:14 PM CST: edits details

10:11 PM: Adds photo

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