Manitoba

Liberals question whether PCs properly vetted candidate Kevin Klein over ties to Peter Nygard

Manitoba Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont is questioning whether Kevin Klein is fit to serve as MLA because of his time working with Peter Nygard, the former fashion mogul now accused of sexual assault.

Kirkfield Park candidate says he quit working for Nygard because he did not like the way he conducted business

Progressive Conservative candidate Kevin Klein chastised the Liberals for suggesting his past work involvement with Peter Nygard makes him unfit to run for the Tories in the upcoming Kirkfield Park byelection. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

Manitoba Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont is questioning whether Kevin Klein is fit to serve as a government MLA because of his time working with Peter Nygard, the former fashion mogul now accused of sexual assault.

Lamont argued on Friday that Klein, the Progressive Conservative candidate in next month's Kirkfield Park byelection, needs to explain the work he did for Nygard, and the PCs should answer why, in Lamont's words, they "have no problem with it." 

"Everybody should be concerned about the fact that there is a candidate in the election … who worked for Peter Nygard," Lamont told reporters after question period.

The former Winnipeg city councillor and mayoral candidate briefly worked for Nygard at two different points: for four months in 2012 and for two weeks in December 2013. Klein handled communications and worked in a government-relations role for a biotech company partially owned by Nygard.

Sexual assault allegations against Nygard surfaced in a class-action lawsuit in early 2020.

Nygard, the former head of a multimillion-dollar clothing company, has been in custody since December 2020, when he was arrested at a Winnipeg home after he was charged with nine sex-related counts in New York. He faces extradition to the United States on those charges.

He is also now accused of 11 counts of sexual assault and three counts of forcible confinement in Toronto, related to allegations from the late 1980s and mid-2000s, and has been charged with one count each of sexual assault and forcible confinement in Quebec.

Klein slams Liberals for insinuating wrongdoing

In an interview Friday, Klein accused Lamont of "insinuating that I had done something illegal" by suggesting he shouldn't be running in the upcoming byelection.

"I've answered this question. I worked for him for less than four months. I left because my integrity wouldn't allow me to work for somebody like that," Klein said.

"It's just disappointing to see this is how politicians want to use their time while being paid by taxpayers. I prefer to talk about the issues that are most important to Manitobans and more important to those in Kirkfield Park."

Klein has previously described the allegations against Nygard as grotesque and said they angered him when he learned of them.

But he said he saw nothing untoward when he made two visits to Nygard's estate in the Bahamas, both times with his wife. 

Klein said he quit working for Nygard because he did not like the way he conducted business.

During the recent mayoral campaign, in which he finished third, Klein expressed frustration that pictures of him with Nygard — some genuine and some he describes as doctored — continued to circulate on social media.

Kevin Klein says he played poker with Peter Nygard twice, but doesn't remember where this game was played. (The Fifth Estate/CBC )

Despite Klein's position, Lamont alleged the Progressive Conservatives did not properly vet their nominee, who recently portrayed himself as the mayoral candidate to tackle Winnipeg's escalating crime rate.

"The anti-crime PC candidate is trying to make a big fuss about how tough on crime he wants to be when he worked for Peter Nygard," Lamont said.

"He would never be allowed to run under my leadership in a million years."

Lakeside MLA Ralph Eichler, who sits on the PC's candidate selection committee, said Lamont is cooking up "baseless conspiracies."

"Mr. Klein went through a vigorous vetting process when becoming chair of the Winnipeg Police Service [board], and again more recently went through our internal vetting process before becoming our PC candidate," Eichler said in an email.

The NDP also questioned the PC's support of Klein.

"Mr Klein's work for Nygard in 2012 and 2014 were revealed even before his mayoral campaign. For Manitobans, it was a red flag about Mr. Klein's judgment — but not for the premier and her party apparently," a party spokesperson said.

The Kirkfield Park byelection, which will fill the seat left vacant after Scott Fielding resigned in June, take place on Dec. 13. 

Four candidates — Klein, the NDP's Logan Oxenham, Liberal candidate Rhonda Nichol and the Green Party's Dennis Bayomi — will vie for the seat.

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story contained incorrect information about the periods during which Kevin Klein says he was employed by Peter Nygard.
    Dec 02, 2022 9:34 PM CT

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ian Froese

Provincial Affairs Reporter

Ian Froese covers provincial politics and its impact for CBC Manitoba. He previously reported on a bit of everything for newspapers. You can reach him at ian.froese@cbc.ca.

With files from CBC's Bartley Kives

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