NDP commission on allegations against Stan Struthers will be led by 2 women, investigate 'systemic failures'
Independent commissioners to investigate inappropriate touching allegations against former cabinet minister
Two independent female commissioners will lead the Manitoba NDP's investigation into accusations that former cabinet minister Stan Struthers touched and tickled several women during his time in office.
An update on the commission, first announced by NDP Leader Wab Kinew last week, was posted on the party's website Thursday and promises it will investigate "systemic failures" that "allowed incidents of harassment and misconduct to occur."
Kinew announced the commission after several women came forward to CBC with complaints about Struthers, dating back as far as 2010.
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"This past week was difficult, and very triggering for many people, and we acknowledge the courage of the women who have come forward and shared their experiences about sexual harassment at work," the Manitoba Opposition party stated in the update.
"We need to do much more to ensure safety and respect for all employees, MLAs, members and others."
The CBC News investigation revealed that four women made complaints about Struthers's behaviour to NDP brass between 2010 and 2015. The party told CBC that no formal disciplinary action was taken and the complaints were never formally investigated.
Struthers has since apologized "for any interactions I have had that have been inappropriate."
- Kinew asks Selinger to resign in wake of allegations former MLA Stan Struthers inappropriately touched women
Kinew said last week the commission will investigate what happened during the years that the NDP was most recently in power — 1999 to 2016. The commission will interview staffers, along with MLAs, and a report will be created.
"Put simply, I want this commission to answer 'what the heck happened?'" Kinew said.
Struthers was first elected as an MLA in 1995 and was one of five ministers who resigned from cabinet in 2014 in a revolt against then premier Greg Selinger's leadership. He remained an MLA until 2016, when the NDP was defeated in a provincial election.
The terms of reference for the commission, now called the Commission to Establish a Safe and Respectful Political Environment, are still being developed.
The update says the commission will have three goals:
- To provide a safe and confidential environment for current and former employees, current or former party members, or stakeholders to share, on a voluntary basis, their experiences, either as someone who witnessed misconduct or was the subject of misconduct, toward a goal of preventing these things from happening again.
- To identify the systemic failures of the work environment that allowed incidents of harassment and misconduct to occur.
- To develop guidance for the NDP that will help develop protocols to create a harassment-free environment where everyone feels safe and respected.