Investigation finds multiple complaints of harassment against NDP's Weir: sources

CBC News has learned that the NDP's investigation of Erin Weir has found multiple complainants.

Weir claims "trumped-up" complaint is punishment for wandering off-script on carbon pricing

Concerns were first raised about NDP MP Erin Weir's behaviour in an e-mail earlier this year. The Saskatchewan MP was suspended from caucus during a third party investigation. (CBC)

CBC News has learned a third-party investigation has revealed multiple harassment complaints against NDP MP Erin Weir.

One complainant told CBC News that Weir spoke to her in an angry and belligerent way and that she felt physically intimidated.

Sources confirm that the NDP caucus was read a summary of the report on Weir's alleged actions last Wednesday. MPs were told information would soon be released publicly, pending consultations with the complainants.

Weir, meanwhile, now alleges that "the complainant" is an individual who he claims blocked him from speaking on a resolution on carbon pricing at the 2016 Saskatchewan NDP convention.

"I suggested that the federal government safeguard local jobs and help reduce global emissions by extending its carbon levy to the carbon content of imports from countries that do not price emissions and by rebating it on Canadian-made exports," said Weir in a media release.

He suggested the harassment complaint was payback for his decision to engage in a debate the party leadership considered "contentious." In the release, he said that "Caucus Chair Charlie Angus ... and Federal Leader Tom Mulcair ... banned (him) from Question Period for several months as punishment for having tried to raise the issue."

"I was and am eager to discuss the merits of carbon border adjustments," said Weir in the release. "But I object to the use of backroom procedural tactics – and now a trumped-up harassment complaint – to shut down democratic debate in the New Democratic Party."

The woman CBC News spoke with said no one from the party has reached out to her to talk about publicizing the report or its results. She said she would support releasing the report's conclusions.

A party spokesman said that, because the complaints are confidential, only the outside investigator running the probe —  University of Ottawa law professor Michelle Flaherty — is able to contact the complainants directly.

Weir was suspended from party duties while the investigation was taking place.

Concerns first raised via e-mail

Concerns about Weir's behaviour were first raised in late January, when Weir e-mailed his NDP colleagues to say he wanted to be caucus chair.

Quebec MP Christine Moore replied to Weir and the rest of caucus, saying he was the "last person" who should get the position.

While she said she had not personally experienced any problems, she had been made aware of concerns.

"There is too many women (mostly employee) complaint to me that you were harassing to them and as a women I would not feel comfortable to meet with you alone," Moore wrote. "Given what's going on right now in the political world, I think you should really not run to avoid us any trouble."

Two days later, Singh said the concerns raised in the email were "serious enough" to merit a third party investigation.

At the time, Weir issued a statement saying any such allegations should be investigated.

"However, I do not know what is being alleged. I am confident that I have not harassed anyone and welcome a prompt investigation to clear my name. I look forward to continuing to represent the people of Regina–Lewvan as a member of the NDP caucus."

In mid-April, Singh told reporters he had received the report but couldn't reveal the results yet because there was a "certain process" he needed to follow.

Parts of the report to be released

In an emailed statement to CBC News, NDP Chief of Staff Willy Blomme said the report on Weir "contains private and confidential information which cannot be disclosed.

"The findings of the investigation that do not breach confidentiality will be released as soon as possible."

She said the party is taking the time to "properly respond to the report's findings, as well as to inform all involved of any decision that has been made," a process made slower by the fact that the identity of the complainants is known only to the outside investigator.

"The manner in which the process is set out ensures that the neither Mr. Singh nor members of his team know the identity of anyone who may have come forward," she writes.

With files from Katie Simpson and Aaron Wherry

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