Harassment complaint against MLA Cliff Graydon 'dealt with internally'

There are few details about how the Progressive Conservative government managed a harassment complaint against MLA Cliff Graydon after he allegedly offered a seat on his lap to a female legislative staffer at a meeting last week.

Government mum on how Emerson MLA Cliff Graydon was disciplined

Emerson MLA Cliff Graydon is the subject of a harassment allegation, according to government sources. (CBC)

Manitoba Justice Minister Cliff Cullen says there may be more details coming about how his government managed a harassment complaint against Emerson MLA Cliff Graydon, but so far it's not clear what discipline was meted out to the veteran politician.

Cullen says the matter was "dealt with internally."

According to a government source familiar with the situation, Graydon allegedly asked a female legislative staff member to sit on his lap during a recent meeting where there was no chairs available.

The Progressive Conservative caucus released a statement last Friday saying "the matter was dealt with immediately in accordance with policies and procedures that respect the impacted individual's right to privacy and confidentiality, while also ensuring that appropriate measures are taken."

The government and the PC caucus have not said what measures were taken or even acknowledged Graydon is the MLA involved or if he has apologized to the staff person.

"Our primary goal is to protect the impacted individual who has requested that details of the matter remain confidential," PC caucus chair Wayne Ewasko said in a statement Monday afternoon.

Cullen was asked directly if what Graydon said was inappropriate.

"I don't know the complete specifics of this particular situation. I know from a cross-government perspective we've tried to make sure there is a no-wrong-door approach so that situations like this can be reported and basically they were reported," Cullen said.

The PC government announced its new sexual harassment policy last February. Part of the new "no wrong door" policy will give all staff, including political staff, the option to take their complaints to Fred Meier, the clerk of the executive council — the highest ranking civil servant.

Cullen provided no details of how the current situation was resolved and says he was not in the room when the comment was made, but suggested there would be more clarity coming soon.

"Certainly we ask [that] elected officials should be held to a higher standard ... I think you will hear more in the days to come," Cullen told reporters at a press conference Monday on the coming legalization of cannabis.

Cullen said he was not aware whether similar complaints had been made against Graydon in the past. 
Justice Minister Cliff Cullen would not say if the PC caucus was considering dumping Graydon from the Tory caucus. (John Einarson/CBC)

The PC cabinet minister also refuted the notion his government handled the matter behind closed doors, taking a swipe at the previous NDP government's handing of harassment allegations. 

"I don't view it as being too secretive. I mean, we had a previous government that was very secretive. There was complete cover-ups. There were people who made allegations not to worry about it. We've taken another approach. We are actually listening to these allegations," Cullen said.

This is not the first time Graydon has been in trouble. Earlier this year the Emerson MLA was disciplined for tweeting that asylum seekers were "illegals" in Canada and a "drain on society."

Graydon was required to undergo sensitivity training and issued an apology.

CBC News has repeatedly asked Graydon for an interview, but he not responded. He spoke briefly to the Canadian Press on Saturday, saying the matter has been dealt with "satisfactorily."

Cullen wouldn't comment on whether the PC caucus would be taking further action regarding Graydon's comments and declined to answer when asked how he would vote if the caucus reviewed the long-time MLA's membership.