Singh: Process 'failed' women who alleged inappropriate conduct by former NDP MP
Published Sunday, February 11, 2018 7:00AM EST
OTTAWA – NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said that the party process that was in place at the time that a women came forward with allegations of inappropriate touching and kissing against former NDP MP Peter Stoffer, was "broken." Still Singh was noncommittal to launching an investigation into the party's handling of the matter at the time.
"We've seen that the process was broken. An allegation was made, a concern was raised, if we believe survivors, something should have happened, some steps should have been taken. This seems to have failed in that example," Singh said in an interview with Evan Solomon, host of CTV’s Question Period.
On Thursday night, the National Post reported that women who worked with him on Parliament Hill had alleged Stoffer acted inappropriately with them, but the concerns raised with top NDP officials never triggered an investigation into his conduct.
Stoffer has publicly apologized for any inappropriate behaviour but said he denies sexually assaulting or physically abusing anyone.
Singh released a statement when the news broke, in which he said the party will "review, renew and expand" its anti-harassment policies.
Though, in the interview airing Sunday on CTV, Singh was nonspecific on whether an investigation would be done into the decisions made by the party at the time, similar to the probe launched by Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer after Maclean’s reported that party insiders were aware of allegations of sexual assault against former MP Rick Dykstra but still allowed him to run in 2015.
Instead, Singh pointed to the "survivor-driven process" he said is in place.
Window to report allegations in Weir investigation closing
As for the process underway to handle the third-party claims of "harassing behaviour towards women" levelled against Saskatchewan MP Erin Weir, Singh said there are about 10 days left in a two-week window for any potential victims to come forward with specific allegations.
On Feb. 1 Singh announced the NDP would launch a probe into the claims levelled against him by fellow NDP MP Christine Moore in an email to caucus.
According to a copy of the email, Weir is named directly by Moore, who alleges that "too many women (mostly employee [sic])" have complained to her about Weir harassing them.
Based on what’s been made public, there is no indication these allegations involved incidents that were sexual in nature.
The independent investigation got underway formally on Feb. 6, Singh’s chief of staff Willy Blomme announced earlier this week.
Blomme said the investigation is being conducted by Michelle Flaherty who is a University of Ottawa law professor and member of the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.
"Once Dr. Flaherty’s work is complete, the MP's role in caucus will be re-evaluated," she said in a statement.
Singh said the part of the investigation where the investigator will be open to hearing from victims will total two weeks, closing on Feb. 20.
"Then, the investigator has requested some time to evaluate how long it will actually take to prepare the report," Singh said.
Citing the investigation, Singh would not comment on whether any men or women had come forward with specific allegations against Weir.
As of last week when Weir appeared on Question Period, no one had spoken up to his knowledge.
"We understand that this is a matter that needs to be done very urgently and we’ll try our best to have it done in an expedient manner," said Singh.
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