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'Harassing behaviour' allegations lead to NDP MP Erin Weir's suspension

Last Updated Feb 1, 2018 at 2:56 pm EDT

Regina NDP MP Erin Weir

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says Saskatchewan MP Erin Weir has been temporarily suspended from his duties amid allegations of harassment.

Singh calls it a troubling allegation that he takes very seriously.

However, he also says the information comes not from the target of the behaviour, but from a third party – another NDP MP – who was made aware of it.

Singh says an independent investigator has been appointed to look into the allegation and that while Weir will remain a member of the NDP caucus, his duties will be curtailed pending the outcome.

Singh says the allegations, contained in an email received by the party, involve “harassing behaviour” towards a female party member.

Weir, 35, a former economist with the United Steelworkers union, was first elected in 2015 in the riding of Regina-Lewvan.

In a statement that was issued prior to Singh’s news conference, Weir protested his innocence, but also pledged support for the party’s investigation.

“As politicians, we are placed in a position of public trust. We are, and should be, held to the highest possible standards and it is absolutely right that our party has a process to investigate any allegations of harassment,” the statement said.

“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.”

The news comes just one day after federal Conservative leader Andrew Scheer announced Wednesday an independent, third-party investigation into how the Ontario MP was allowed to run in 2015 despite facing serious allegations of sexual assault.

Rick Dykstra, who has denied the allegations against him, ultimately lost in his 2015 re-election bid and went on to become president of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives, a position he resigned after the details of the alleged assault were published by Maclean’s.

Scheer also says the party will also be strengthening its staff code of conduct, including requiring mandatory training, which will apply to candidates as well.

The Liberals are also investigating actions by members of their caucus; cabinet minister Kent Hehr resigned from cabinet last week after an Alberta woman alleged he’d made inappropriate remarks.

But Liberal MPs said it is time to take a closer look at the code of conduct that is meant to address allegations of harassment between politicians.

The code was reviewed last fall, but Liberal MP Filomena Tassi, the government’s deputy whip, says things have changed so much in the past few months that it is time to dig deeper.

The procedure and House affairs committee unanimously passed her motion to create a sub-committee to handle the task.

The review will be limited to the code of conduct dealing with allegations against MPs, which was set up after two New Democrats accused two of their Liberal counterparts of sexual misconduct in 2014.

There is also a separate policy meant to prevent and address harassment involving MPs and employees, which is outside the jurisdiction of the committee to review.