Premier Brian Pallister promises 'culture of concealment' will end under his watch

Premier Brian Pallister promises 'culture of concealment' will end under his watch

Manitoba’s premier says the past “culture of concealment” that allowed allegations against former NDP minister Stan Struthers to be kept quiet will end under his watch.

Brian Pallister said he was saddened by news that several women told CBC no one acted on their complaints about Struthers’s unwanted touching and tickling.

“We are cognizant that [the] culture of concealment that was in place for a very long time is not the way to go,” he said.

“If anyone wants to work in the civil service, or as political staff, they deserve to be heard.… They can trust they will be dealt with.”

A recent CBC News investigation revealed that five women, including a former NDP cabinet colleague, accused Struthers of several instances of inappropriate touching, dating back at least eight years. Two more women came forward after the initial story.

Since the Progressive Conservatives took power in 2016, Pallister said, he knows of two complaints that were made involving staff.

Citing privacy, he did not go into details, but said the complainants, who were civil servants and political staff, were satisfied with how it was addressed.

“We have done that and will continue to do that,” he said. 

“That is the important difference.”

NDP party officials received at least three complaints about Struthers’ tickling and harassment between 2010 and 2015. The Manitoba NDP could not confirm whether there was ever a formal investigation into the behaviour of Struthers, who left politics in 2016. He was never formally disciplined.

The buck stops with the premier, said Pallister, and he wants to be accountable.

“I am not ever going to put you in the position for me to say, ‘I don’t know.'”

He said his government will make further announcement next week to strengthen their policy when dealing with employee complaints involving sexual harassment.

Published at Wed, 14 Feb 2018 12:32:04 -0500