Civil servant fired over harassment complaint, other underwent counselling under Pallister gov't

A senior civil servant was fired by the Pallister government after a series of allegations were raised by a government employee, according to the clerk of the executive council.

New details emerge of complaints dealt with by Progressive Conservatives

Brian Pallister says one employee accused of harassment underwent counselling and remains on the job. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

A senior civil servant was fired by the Pallister government after a series of allegations were raised by an employee, according to the clerk of the executive council.

A statement provided to CBC News Thursday on behalf of the clerk said the allegations prompted the government to bring in an independent investigator.

"Those allegations were dealt with swiftly and seriously," according to the statement. "A number of findings were made which confirmed the allegations."

The civil servant was fired with cause and no severance, pay in lieu of notice or any letter of reference was provided, it said.

Meanwhile, Premier Brian Pallister revealed Thursday that a second employee within his government remains on the job following an allegation of harassment.

"Counselling, coaching, growing up, getting smarter, showing more respect for people — that was the action taken." Pallister said, when asked what disciplinary action was taken.

"It was harassment in the workplace and it was dealt with expeditiously. I think that is the key thing here, to the satisfaction of the complainant."

We are not going to be protecting people.- Brian Pallister

He refused to disclose the nature of the complaint, including if it the employee alleged sexual harassment, but said "none of the findings suggested the actions, while inappropriate, rose to the level of being criminal in nature."

The statement sent Thursday said out of respect for the complainant, they would not be naming the individuals involved.

Pallister was also asked further about the allegations Thursday as his government announced a strengthened policy when dealing with sexual harassment at the workplace.

The policy was announced in a wake of a CBC investigation into the conduct of former NDP cabinet minister Stan Struthers. Pallister broke down discussing the "culture of concealment" that previously existed at the legislature.

"Let's be a frank, there has been a culture where there was at least a perception that people in senior positions were untouchable, complaints were not expressed, even by senior government elected people," Pallister said Thursday when asked about the fired civil servant.

"We are not going to be protecting people."

The premier first spoke of the complaints last week, while talking to media after accusations of unwanted touching by Struther were raised by former NDP staffers.

At that point Pallister offered few details about the complaints, citing privacy reasons, but said when complaints were made, the staffers were listened to and the government dealt with it.

"Yes, there has been concerns expressed by civil servants and government political staff about issues that have been raised and I have been made aware of them," Pallister said, when asked directly if complaints had crossed his desk, saying it represents a "change from the way it was in the past," 

"I can also tell you, with great confidence, that they were dealt with and they were dealt with to the satisfaction of the complainant."

About the Author

Kristin Annable

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Kristin Annable is a member of CBC's investigative unit based in Winnipeg. She can be reached at kristin.annable@cbc.ca