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MP says punishment 'too harsh' after being ousted from NDP caucus

Last Updated May 3, 2018 at 1:54 pm PDT

FILE: NDP MP Erin Weir rises during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday April 12, 2016 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Summary

'One claim of harassment and three claims of sexual harassment were sustained by evidence,' says NDP leader

OTTAWA (NEWS 1130) – Saskatchewan MP Erin Weir has been kicked out of the federal New Democrat caucus, after an independent investigation into harassment and sexual harassment claims.

“The independent investigator found one claim of harassment and three claims of sexual harassment were sustained by the evidence,” says NDP leader Jagmeet Singh.

Singh isn’t providing many details, for privacy reasons. But he says the investigator found there were acts of a sexual nature.

“Mr. Weir failed to read non-verbal cues in social settings. That behaviour resulted in significant, negative impact to the complainants,” Singh says, adding he considered different ways to resolve the issue, but took this action because Weir won’t accept the findings. “Not prepared to accept responsibility, attacking someone that came forward with a complaint.”

When the MP was told his advances were unwanted, he stopped.

‘Huge overreaction’

Weir has released a statement, calling the findings exaggerated and the investigation flawed. He adds the sexual harassment finding was that he probably sat or stood too close to people at social events.

The MP says he was not kicked out because of the findings, but because of the fact he spoke to the media this week, claiming the one harassment complaint was unfounded and politically motivated after he spoke out against the government’s carbon tax.

“In politics, there are rivalries and people have axes to grind,” Weir tells CityNews.

He says the findings were exaggerated. For the complaints of sexual harassment, he says he didn’t pick up on non-verbal cues and stopped his advances when asked to. “And I apologized to anyone that I made uncomfortable.”

Weir thinks the punishment is too harsh. “Expulsion is a huge overreaction”

He was originally suspended from duties as an NDP MP pending an independent investigation, but remained in caucus.

He says Singh had earlier decided to reinstate him after he agreed to participate in conciliation with any complainants who wanted to do so and complete training, which Weir called an opportunity for self-improvement.

In today’s statement, Singh says he considered various resolutions including conciliation, but what he called “recent developments” show a rehabilitative approach is untenable.

“He’d also released details, which could identify the individual. All of this makes it clear that a rehabilitative approach is no longer possible — that his conduct sustained allegations that have been proven by the inquiry,” says Singh.