OTTAWA – Saskatchewan MP Erin Weir says he isn’t ruling out legal action against his former party after being ousted from the NDP caucus following an unsuccessful attempt at mediating founded harassment allegations against him.
"I would say I am not ruling it out," the independent MP said in an interview with CTV’s Question Period.
When asked whether he thought he had been defamed, Weir responded: "That's a technical legal term and at this point I haven’t made that analysis but I mean certainly I haven’t ruled anything out, I’m exploring different options."
On Thursday, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh announced he was removing Weir from caucus because he felt mediation wouldn't be possible because of Weir's decision to speak publicly about the third-party investigation launched against him and the allegations that came to light as a result. In his public comments, Weir said the harassment complaint process was being used for political retaliation.
Singh said he was prepared to allow Weir back in caucus if he took responsibility and completed anti-harassment training, despite the third-party investigation he launched finding one substantiated claim of harassment and three substantiated claims of sexual harassment.
Announcing his ouster from caucus, Singh said Weir failed to read nonverbal cues in social settings, resulting in "significant negative impact to the complainants." Though, once told his advances were unwanted, Singh said Weir stopped. He also drafted an apology that he provided to Singh.
Weir said that hundreds of NDP staff, including his female constituency employees were invited to contact the investigator, and he argues that approach was flawed.
He said while he doesn’t think there was malice or any ill will on Singh’s part in setting up the independent investigation process, the federal NDP leader didn’t account for the potential for the process to be taken advantage of.
"I think one of the challenges here is that in politics there are always rivalries and axes to grind, and if you’ve set up a totally open-ended process where you invite anonymous complaints from hundreds of staff people, you’re bound to get some," Weir said.
On CTV's Question Period, Weir said he is a “bachelor” who attends social events, and argued that it’s not uncommon for relationships to form on Parliament Hill that are respectful of power dynamics.
"I do approach women that I am interested in, but I want to be clear that the findings here really are about being a bit of a close-talker, of physical proximity, and engaging people in conversation more than they may have wished to speak with me," Weir said.
He argued this doesn’t meet what most Canadians would consider being the definition of sexual harassment.
For now, Weir said though he has been a lifelong New Democrat, he wasn’t sure about running again under the party banner.
He also plans to still go through with some form of anti-harassment training.
"Of course I want to be a member of the federal NDP parliamentary caucus but ultimately the decision about whether or not I’ll be permitted to do that is not mine to make," Weir said.
In a separate interview on CTV’s Question Period, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May said Weir will be able to do what she does as a lone member: "do the best job you could possibly do for your constituents."
"I can tell you, every MP has the ability to do a good job representing their constituents and sometimes better when they’re not under a party rule," May said.