Yukon Speaker resigned because of sexual harassment allegation
David Laxton issues statement explaining May 10 resignation, denies harassment allegation
David Laxton's tenure as the Speaker of the Yukon Legislative Assembly ended with a hug and a kiss — and an allegation of sexual harassment, the MLA said in a statement.
Laxton resigned as Speaker on May 10 and also left the governing Yukon Party caucus to sit as an independent MLA.
He says he had learned of the allegation the day before, and decided he "did not want this false allegation to impact the daily work of the government," according to the statement he posted Thursday on Facebook.
"The allegation involves an incident during business hours whereby I hugged and kissed a long time acquaintance when she was leaving my office, which was intended as a friendly gesture," Laxton wrote.
The statement says he then "walked her to the foyer with numerous other people present where we hugged and kissed goodbye again."
"I am deeply sorry if the woman in question was offended or made to feel uncomfortable by my actions."
It's not known to whom the alleged victim complained, or how her complaint might be dealt with.
Laxton is asking the government for a "third party investigation," saying he's confident his name will be "completely cleared."
Laxton will continue to sit as MLA for Porter Creek Centre, but decided that he should leave the Yukon Party caucus "out of respect for the government's zero tolerance policy for sexual harassment."
Premier learned of allegation May 9
Premier Darrell Pasloski issued a statement on Thursday, saying he also learned of the woman's allegations against Laxton on May 9. He said he did not make them public then, since to do so would have been "disrespectful and inappropriate," since neither Laxton nor the woman had done so.
"I can say that we take all accusations about sexual harassment extremely seriously. There is no place for that kind of behaviour in this caucus or in our community," Pasloski's statement said.
Floyd McCormick, clerk of the assembly, said he only knows what's in Laxton's statement.
"The complaints have not been brought to me," he said.
"The legislative assembly has the authority to discipline its own members. I don't think it has the authority to conduct an investigation — this type of investigation — which could involve a person who is not a member of the legislative assembly."
McCormick said MLAs can be suspended or even removed from office, but "I think we're quite a long ways from anything like that occurring."
"As far as we know, there are no charges against Laxton, so at this point he would simply continue as a member of the legislative assembly."