OTTAWA – NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has removed Saskatchewan MP Erin Weir from caucus after an unsuccessful attempt at mediation following an investigation into harassment allegations.
Singh says the independent investigation launched in February into second-hand allegations of harassment against Weir, found one substantiated claim of harassment and three substantiated claims of sexual harassment, defined as “acts of a sexual nature that might reasonably be expected to cause offence.”
The NDP leader said that after reviewing the findings of the third-party investigation, he attempted to pursue a rehabilitative process with Weir that would allow him to stay in caucus if he would take responsibility and complete anti-harassment training. Weir, in a statement, claims he agreed to this.
However, citing “recent developments,” Singh told reporters Thursday that approach would be “untenable,” as Weir demonstrated he was not ready to take responsibility, and as a result, has been removed from the NDP caucus.
According to Weir, Singh informed him that he was being expelled from caucus, not because of the report’s findings, but as a result of him speaking out in response to allegations reported earlier this week, saying the harassment complaint process was being used for political retaliation.
On May 1, Weir appeared on CTV’s Power Play to respond to a CBC report that multiple complaints of harassment surfaced during the third-party investigation process and cited the account of one anonymous woman. Weir claimed that the anonymous complainant was a former NDP staff member who “intercepted” him on his way to the microphone at the 2016 Saskatchewan NDP convention to prevent him from speaking about concerns over the regional impact of the federal government’s price on carbon.
Weir expressed concern over the “misuse of a harassment complaint to retaliate for his expression of differing views on public policy,” and called it a “trumped-up harassment complaint,” citing backroom political motivations in a statement.
“Singh deemed that unacceptable,” Weir said Thursday.
Though, Singh said these comments led to his decision to remove the rookie MP from his ranks, he added.
“In his actions, in his comments, Mr. Weir made it clear he did not accept responsibility for what the inquiry found to be a fact. He, in addition, attacked someone who had come forward with a complaint. He’d also released details which could identify the individual. All of this makes it clear that a rehabilitative approach is no longer possible,” Singh said.
The now-independent MP claims the investigation process was “deeply flawed” but acknowledged that the investigation made him aware he “was sometimes slow to pick up on social cues.”
Weir alleges that hundreds of NDP staff, including his female constituency employees were invited to contact the investigator, and that the allegations that did come forward had varying detail which he claims “made it impossible to properly respond.”
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.
“I apologize to anyone who felt uncomfortable because I stood or sat too close or spoke with them more than they wished to talk with me,” Weir said in his statement released minutes before Singh spoke to reporters.
The initial concerns were brought to caucus in an email from fellow NDP MP Christine Moore, who alleged women, including NDP employees had complained to her about Weir’s alleged behaviour.
“I am confident that in this situation we have responded appropriately and fairly to the claims brought forward,” Singh said.
Asked to comment on the matter, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that while each case comes with its own circumstances, “no one in any workplace across this country should be subject to harassment, or sexual violence, or intimidation of any sort. Those are the rules.”