Former Nova Scotia NDP MP Peter Stoffer apologized on Friday following allegations of inappropriate behaviour during his time in office, which he chalked up to his gregarious personality.
Lauren Dobson-Hughes, a former NDP staffer, told the National Post that Stoffer tried to force kisses on her on two occasions, in 2006 and 2009.
"I did not in any way in my intention intend to insult or demean or belittle any person in this regard," Stoffer said at a news conference Friday in Halifax, without addressing specific allegations.
"But it is obvious that by some of the remarks that were made from the past that that's exactly what happened and for that, I regrettably apologize and humbly ask for their forgiveness in this regard."
Stoffer said he's never sexually or physically abused anybody, but said people know he's a "hugger" and "touchy person."
Asked if he has contacted Dobson-Hughes about her allegations, Stoffer said he had not. He suggested he would, if he could get her contact information.
Despite taking her complaints to the party leadership, Dobson-Hughes told the National Post no formal action was taken against Stoffer. In the article, Stoffer strongly denied the allegations against him.
Many, many people knew and witnessed harassment by this person. Female caucus members warned staff and each other about it (no male MP or senior staff ever warned me about another man)— @ldobsonhughes
Stoffer began his six-minute news conference by saying that when he first arrived on Parliament Hill, there wasn't much of a social scene, so he helped organize a Christmas party for people from all parties, "the all-party party." He also organized an all-party soccer club.
Stoffer said his office was "a fun office," a place where people could play a game of pool or darts and "have a cold one."
CBC News has been unable to reach Dobson-Hughes. On Twitter, Dobson-Hughes wrote that she would not answer any more questions about Stoffer.
"He got away with shocking behaviour — this piece is the tip of the iceberg and we all know it," she wrote.
'Humdrum daily harassment'
Dobson-Hughes appeared on CBC's The Current in late January and discussed the "humdrum daily harassment" she was exposed to while working on Parliament Hill. She referenced unwanted forced kisses and being groped, but didn't say who did those things to her.
She said the incidents sent a message to her because other MPs who witnessed them didn't do anything about it.
"I think it really sent a signal to me as a young woman that this was my value ... I was a piece of eye candy and I was objectified and really not valued as a smart, young person," said Dobson-Hughes.
Stoffer served as an NDP MP for 18 years, but lost the Sackville-Preston-Chezzetcook seat in the 2015 election.
He later went to work for Trauma Healing Centers, an organization that helps veterans suffering from trauma such as PTSD. CBC News contacted Trauma Healing Centers, but the company did not respond to requests for comment.
On Thursday evening, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said in a statement posted to Twitter that he was "deeply disturbed" by the allegations.
"I believe the women who have come forward and I want to acknowledge their courage and strength," Singh wrote. "It's clear our anti-harassment policies and protections for workers were insufficient and failed to appropriately deal with this behaviour."
Singh wrote that the NDP will review its policies and is committed to changing the culture in and around Parliament Hill.