Hehr won't return to cabinet, but remains in Liberal caucus after harassment investigation
Kent Hehr stepped down from cabinet in January after allegations against him hit social media
A report on sexual harassment allegations against former Liberal cabinet minister Kent Hehr has concluded with the MP being told that he will not be allowed to return to cabinet — but will be allowed to remain a member of the federal Liberal caucus.
"I am grateful to the prime minister for this process as it has allowed these issues to be more fully understood by all involved," Hehr said in a statement posted to Twitter. "While I will not be returning to cabinet, I will continue to work hard to serve the good people of Calgary Centre as a member of the Liberal caucus."
Hehr resigned from cabinet after Kristin Raworth of Edmonton published a series of tweets earlier this year alleging the Liberal minister had made women feel "unsafe" at Alberta's legislature with unwanted, sexually suggestive comments, and had made suggestive remarks to her, including, "You're yummy."
Raworth said she had been warned to avoid getting in an elevator with Hehr, and admitted she felt fearful about doing so at the legislature, where Hehr was an MLA from 2008 to 2015.
In an interview on CBC News Network's Power & Politics Wednesday, Hehr insisted his behaviour at the legislature should not have prompted such warnings.
"Well no, clearly not, I worked hard as an MLA to represent people, I tried to treat people forthright and honest and in a friendly manner, and in my view I tried to do that to the best of my ability each and every day of my eight years at the Alberta legislature," he told host Vassy Kapelos.
In his statement Wednesday, Hehr said that he did not remember meeting Raworth but it's clear from the report on the harassment allegations that he made her feel uncomfortable.
"I have apologized and hope that she can move forward positively," he said in the statement.
Hehr told Power & Politics it was Trudeau's decision to not invite him back into cabinet.
"The prime minister decides who's in cabinet and it was an honour to serve in that capacity," Hehr told Kapelos.
Hehr said that since the allegations were made public, he has taken time to focus on his conduct and is striving to "do better." Part of that effort, he said, is to make amends to the people he has offended.
A second complaint against Hehr made by another woman, which was also investigated as a part of this report, alleged that the Liberal MP touched her inappropriately during an event — something Hehr said was unintentional.
"Regarding the other complaint, that of an inappropriate touch during an event, the report was clear that any contact was unintentional," he said. "I did not know it happened and I did not mean for it to happen.
"As many of you know, I am a C5 quadriplegic. I have no feeling or independent movement in my hands. Further, I have limited muscular control and feeling in my arms. While my disability explains much, it does not dismiss the feelings of those with whom I interact."
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who was in Davos, Switzerland at the time the allegations were made public, accepted Hehr's resignation, calling it a "leave of absence."
"Harassment of any kind is unacceptable and Canadians have a right to live and work in environments free from harassment," he said.
"As a government, we take any allegations of misconduct extremely seriously, and we believe that it is important to support women who come forward with allegations and that is exactly what our government will do."
The report into Hehr's conduct is not expected to be made public.
I have been advised that the report into my conduct has concluded. I will continue to work hard to serve the people of Calgary Centre as a member of the Liberal Caucus. Statement: <a href="https://t.co/Q1V9Ho2uj0">pic.twitter.com/Q1V9Ho2uj0</a>—@kenthehr
Trudeau has had to deal with other cases of allegations of sexual harassment and abuse in the Liberal Party.
- In December 2017, the deputy director of operations in the PMO, Claude-Éric Gagné, went on leave while a third party investigated allegations of inappropriate behaviour.
- In August 2017, Calgary MP Darshan Kang resigned from the Liberal caucus amid allegations of sexual harassment.
- In May 2016, Nunavut MP and former federal cabinet minister Hunter Tootoo resigned from cabinet and the Liberal caucus amid allegations he had a "consensual but inappropriate" relationship with a female staffer.
- And before the Liberals took office, Trudeau kicked two of his MPs — Massimo Pacetti and Scott Andrews — out of the caucus over allegations of harassment made by two New Democratic MPs.