Alberta premier defends how NDP caucus investigated 2 MLAs

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley is defending how the NDP caucus investigated misconduct complaints against two MLAs after the Alberta Party called for a review into how those probes were carried out.

Alberta Party MLA Karen McPherson wants to find out if complaints were handled properly

Premier Rachel Notley has refused to release the names of the NDP MLAs investigated for inappropriate behaviour. (CBC)

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley is defending how the NDP caucus investigated sexual misconduct complaints against two MLAs after the Alberta Party called for a review into how those probes were carried out.

"We're happy for the Speaker, the LAO (Legislative Assembly Office) or anyone else to look at our policy and to also assess the independence of the folks who were part of it," Notley said Monday. "But that's where the matter will stand."

Calgary-McKay-Nose Hill MLA Karen McPherson of the Alberta Party is raising questions about how these two investigations were conducted in secret by a political party.

McPherson, a former member of the NDP caucus, asked Speaker Bob Wanner for an investigation into whether the complaints were handled properly. If not, she wants recommendations on how to improve the system.

"The more transparent the process, the better (the) result, the more credibility there is especially for anyone who wants to come forward," McPherson said Monday.

The existence of these investigations came to light after reporters asked Notley about an allegation raised by former caucus member Robyn Luff.

Luff said NDP MLAs were told to stay quiet about sexual misconduct allegations involving opposition members as the NDP "wasn't completely without fault on the matter." Notley denied that was ever said by anyone who reports to her. 

To name or not?

The government said the investigations into their MLAs were undertaken by Janice Rubin of Rubin Thomlinson in Toronto and Ayla Akgungor of Field Law in Edmonton.

Notley refuses to release the names of the MLAs involved, claiming it could reveal the identities of the complainants. The nature of the complaints have not been disclosed.

Both investigations concluded the behaviour could be corrected through education. The premier's office said the complaints were not criminal in nature and took place outside the workplace. 

McPherson said she has mixed feelings about revealing the MLAs' names. She said the courts regularly handle sexual assault cases without revealing complainants' identities

But she said disclosure would depend on the nature of the complaints.

"Sexual misconduct is a really wide range of behaviours and it would depend on what the behaviour," McPherson said.

"I think it is an opportunity for someone who did commit a sexual misconduct offence to own up to their behaviour and take responsibility publicly. I think it's an excellent example to set for Albertans."

Earlier Monday, Deputy Premier Sarah Hoffman said the caucus has been open about its process.

Though the NDP caucus internal policy was not online, a copy was provided to the media upon request.

Under the policy, complaints about government staff or a minister are directed to the premier's deputy chief of staff. Complaints about backbench MLAs, their staff or caucus staff are directed to the executive director of caucus.

The complaint can be resolved informally if the complainant agrees. Formal investigations are called if the informal process doesn't work or if the complainant wants one.  

Everyone who is part of an investigation is required to keep it quiet under the policy: "Failure to keep the matter confidential may result in disciplinary action."

Investigations can also be conducted by the Legislative Assembly Office and the government of Alberta. "However, those processes will have no bearing on the outcome of the caucus process," the policy says