Clyde Jackman, the Newfoundland and Labrador politician who has made anti-bullying a political priority after disclosing experiences from his own childhood, steadfastly denied on Friday the comments that he is a bully himself.
"I came into this job with my integrity, and I intend to leave with my integrity," Jackman told the St. John's Morning Show, responding to allegations that were aired Thursday in the House of Assembly.
Nathan Whalen, the president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of School Councils, confirmed for CBC News that he felt bullied when Jackman approached him just after the budget was delivered on March 27, and challenged his negative review of how the budget addressed the council's education concerns.
"It's all about tone of voice," Whalen said Friday, adding that how Jackman made the remarks was more significant than what he actually said.
"It's about the aggressiveness of the actual comment that is being made."
Moreover, Whalen said Jackman behaved the same way when he met with Federation of School Councils representatives last June.
"I tell you, I've never been in a worse meeting in my entire life, [and] it's not just me," said Whalen, adding he and others were "shell-shocked" by how Jackman responded to their concerns.
"It's about creating and instilling a culture of fear…This is about occasions where fear is instilled through intimidation tactics."
'Surprised and very disappointed'
Jackman vigorously denied any wrongdoing.
"I was surprised and very disappointed when the accusations were made," said Jackman, who has frequently spoken out against bullying during his career, especially as education minister.
"I can't speak to his perception…[but] it's the nature of the business we are in. I walked away from that certainly not thinking that there was some intimidation or intent to bully here," Jackman said.
'I walked away from that certainly not thinking that there was some intimidation or intent to bully here' - Clyde Jackman
The issue was raised in the House of Assembly Thursday, when Liberal education critic Dale Kirby pressed the government for a response.
Premier Tom Marshall said he had taken the issue seriously enough to arrange a meeting between Whalen and Jackman.
Whalen said Friday that he would have been content if his complaint had never come to light.
"We were trying to do this without the media getting involved," he said. "I'm not out to get the minister."
Whalen added that he was happy to hear Jackman talk about a making a new start at the end of their recent meeting.
Jackman indicated a similar feeling.
"I find Mr. Whalen a very bright, accomplished young man with a future ahead of him," he said.