Klein blasts opposition parties after his role with 2 Florida therapeutic companies questioned

After three days of continuous criticism, Progressive Conservative byelection candidate Kevin Klein fired back at his political opponents after more questions were raised surrounding his work history.

Klein held a press conference Tuesday to share his frustration after the latest round of accusations hurled at him inside Manitoba’s legislative chamber.

“I’m at the point where this ongoing barrage of false statements, lies, slander … is impacting my family,” Klein said. “You can pick on me and you can make up lies about me. People have done that before, for whatever reason … but you’re not going to impact my family. I’m not going to let that happen.”

Before the press conference began, Klein went over to hug his wife, Heather, who was crying.

In question period, the former Winnipeg city councillor and recent mayoral candidate was criticized over his involvement with two Florida therapeutical companies — Natura Therapeutics and Saneron CCEL Therapeutics. 

According to Klein’s LinkedIn page, he’s been on the board of directors for both companies since 2017, but he isn’t listed on corporate filings shared with the media by the NDP.

Klein says the documents are simply financial statements that went to the state.

Klein is listed on both Natura Therapeutics and Saneron CCEL Therapeutics wesbsites as a senior vice-president, but says that’s incorrect and needs to be removed. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

“They don’t list any members of the board of directors. They list executive directors for the companies,” he said. “Clearly, I don’t know how somebody misread that, except that I can only assume that an NDP member doesn’t have the knowledge of what corporate records truly look like.”

Klein is listed on the websites of both Natura Therapeutics and Saneron CCEL Therapeutics as a senior vice-president. He says he isn’t involved in their respective day-to-day operations, and that his titles on those websites need to be corrected.

Klein said Monday the only investments he has are registered retirement saving plans. But when he was a councillor, city of Winnipeg conflict of interest declarations under section 10F (Investment Funds) shows a disclosure in which he stated ownership in less than three per cent ownership in Natura Theraputics from 2018 to 2022 and the same for Saneron CCEL Therapeutics in 2021-2022. 

He said he spends about four or five hours annually working with both companies, and was paid for his time in the form of company stocks, “which were of no value to me.”

Klein says he sold the stocks back to the main shareholder for under $50, putting the money into RRSPs.

Klein needs to ‘be honest with voters’: NDP

The questions of Klein began to fly Friday when the Liberals asked if he was fit to serve as an MLA considering his ties to disgraced fashion mogul Peter Nygard.

Klein has said previously that he worked for Nygard briefly in 2012 and for almost four months in 2014.

On Monday, the NDP questioned the truth of Klein’s employment history after a 2016 news article from Saint Kitts and Nevis said he was a “private-sector partner” for a regenerative medical project in the same country. The article also lists the St. Kitts Biomedical Research Foundation as a partner. 

Regenerative medicine, and in particular stem cell therapy, was an area of significant interest for Nygard, but Klein said the former fashion executive wasn’t involved in his 2016 business interest.

The NDP believes Manitobans should be aware of Klein’s employment history.

“Manitobans expect honesty from candidates, but Kevin Klein hasn’t been truthful about where he worked and when,” NDP house leader Nahanni Fontaine said in a statement. “His LinkedIn profile falsely states the nature of his work experience. Running for office demands accuracy and accountability — Klein needs to be honest with voters.” 

Klein wants parliamentary privilege revoked

Klein has yet to be elected to the Manitoba Legislature, but he vowed to fight to repeal parliamentary privilege for MLAs, even if other members of his party don’t approve.

“If I’m fortunate enough, I am going to be fighting that rule and changing it so that every politician has to stand up and be held accountable for what they say, where they said, when they said it, and they will not have privilege in the legislature,” he said. “That is going to be my No. 1 objective.”

In Canada, members of Parliament and provincial legislative assemblies are able to make whatever statements, claims and arguments they want inside the chamber, free from civil and criminal liability. Klein vehemently opposes this right.

“It seems that the NDP or the Liberal Party has chosen me to take personal attacks on, and they do this in the legislative building and in the chamber because they are protected under privilege,” he said.

“That’s why they don’t do it outside of the chamber. They want to be protected giving them a right to say and make any allegations they wish to make.”

However, legislative bodies do not possess the authority to determine the limits of their own privileges, and so the courts have the jurisdiction to determine the existence and scope of any claimed privilege.

Klein has alleged opposition parties are desperately trying to discredit him in an attempt to gain an edge in the Kirkfield Park byelection, which takes place Dec. 13.

Four candidates — Klein, the NDP’s Logan Oxenham, Liberal candidate Rhonda Nichol and the Green Party’s Dennis Bayomi — are seeking to become the next Kirkfield Park MLA.