PMO staffer resigns after investigation into allegations of inappropriate behaviour

Claude-Éric Gagné, formerly the deputy director of operations, had been on leave from the Prime Minister's Office since November. An independent investigation into his alleged conduct concluded on Friday.

Claude-Éric Gagné had been on leave since November

Claude-Éric Gagné has resigned as deputy director of operations in the PMO. (CBC)

A staff member in the Prime Minister's Office has resigned after an investigation into allegations of inappropriate behaviour, though he continues to deny any wrongdoing.

Claude-Éric Gagné, formerly the deputy director of operations, had been on leave from the office since November. An independent investigation into his alleged conduct concluded on Friday. 

In a statement, Gagné said he denies the allegations against him and that he resigned of his own accord.

"I collaborated entirely with investigation into the complaint about inappropriate behaviour. I strongly deny the allegations that have been brought to me," he said. 

"A few days ago, with no news from the person in charge of the investigation for a number weeks, and without further facts, I made the decision to resign. This process has been extremely stressful personally. To preserve my health and to prevent becoming a source of distraction for the team that I respect, I decided to resign."

His departure from the PMO was first reported by HuffPost Canada.

Meanwhile, a woman who was not part of the complaint has come forward to say she had an "unpleasant" interaction with Gagné. Myriam Denis said she will have more specific allegations about Gagné and others on Monday.

"Based on my personal experience with Gagné, I am relieved to hear he is no longer working in the top political office of our country. Specific details of my experience with him and other Liberal Party of Canada staffers will be made public in a blog post on Monday."

Rubin Thomlinson LLP, an employment law firm in Toronto, was hired to investigate the allegations.

"I take the issues of allegations of misconduct extremely seriously and that's one of the reasons why one of the things we did when I became leader of the Liberal Party [was] we put in place rigorous processes to actually engage and deal with allegations," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in December when asked about Gagné. 

"That's something that people expect. It's something that we're seeing a need for in workplaces across the country and indeed around the world. And because of obviously the need to respect the rigour and integrity of the processes going underway I won't be making any further comments on this situation." 

All parties impacted

Gagné's departure comes with all three major federal parties dealing with misconduct allegations.

On Thursday, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh announced an investigation into concerns raised about NDP MP Erin Weir. A day earlier, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said an independent investigation would look into a report that Rick Dykstra was allowed to stand as a candidate for the Conservative Party in 2015 despite an allegation of sexual assault.

A week ago, Kent Hehr resigned from Trudeau's cabinet pending an investigation into sexual harassment allegations against him.


Aaron Wherry

Senior writer

Aaron Wherry has covered Parliament Hill since 2007 and has written for Maclean's, the National Post and the Globe and Mail. He is the author of Promise & Peril, a book about Justin Trudeau's years in power.