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Details may be coming on harassment complaint against Manitoba backbencher

Last Updated Oct 15, 2018 at 5:40 pm EST

WINNIPEG – A top Manitoba cabinet minister is hinting that the public may soon learn some details of a harassment complaint against a Tory government backbencher.

Justice Minister Cliff Cullen says he has no personal knowledge of an inappropriate comment reportedly made by MLA Cliff Graydon to a woman who works for the party caucus.

Cullen says elected officials should be held to a higher standard and he expects there will be some information in the coming days.

The Winnipeg Free Press and CBC both quote unnamed sources as saying Graydon told the woman she should sit on his lap during a luncheon where there was a shortage of chairs.

The Free Press reports that the issue was resolved within a matter of hours to the woman’s satisfaction and that the Tory caucus may vote later this month on whether to sanction or kick Graydon out.

Graydon told The Canadian Press on the weekend that the matter has been dealt with satisfactorily and he has no reason to contemplate resigning his seat.

Cullen said Monday he was not in the room when the comment was reportedly made, and the government has a policy in place for dealing with harassment complaints.

“My understanding is it’s been dealt with internally,” said Cullen, the only cabinet minister made available to the media on Monday. “Our focus is making sure we have a respectful workplace and we’re doing everything we can to have that respectful workplace.”

Cullen said he is not aware of any other complaints against Graydon from staff.

Tory caucus chair Wayne Ewasko said there is a reason the government has not released details.

“Our primary goal is to protect the impacted individual who has requested that details of the matter remain confidential. Therefore we have no further comment at this time,” Ewasko said in a written statement.

Graydon was in hot water last winter for social media posts criticizing asylum-seekers and the prime minister.

Graydon, who represents the Emerson, Man. area, where asylum-seekers have been walking across the border from the United States, called immigrants a “drain on society” and retweeted other people’s posts that called Prime Minister Justin Trudeau a traitor, a scumbag and a disgrace.

Graydon apologized, deleted the tweets and agreed to step back from social media and undergo sensitivity training.

Graydon, in his early 70s, has not ruled out running for re-election in 2020. He has had health challenges in recent years but said Saturday he has yet to make up his mind about running again.

Graydon also sits as a government representative on the board of Crown-owned Manitoba Hydro.