liberal MP offered woman $100K to keep quiet about sexual harassment claim, father alleges
The father of a 24-year-old woman who worked for Calgary Liberal MP Darshan Kang said Kang offered a series of payments to prevent her from sharing harassment allegations with her parents. OTTAWA—A Liberal MP accused of sexually harassing a young female staffer offered to pay her $100,000 to stay quiet about her allegations, the woman’s father says. The father outlined his daughter’s allegations against Darshan Kang, an MP from Calgary, during an interview Monday with the Star. He spoke on condition that their names not be published. He said over a period of four to five years, Kang gave his daughter unwelcome hugs, held and stroked her hand during car rides, and once brought her in a taxi to an Ottawa apartment, where he allegedly offered her wine and pulled at her jacket to try to get her to take it off. The next day he followed her to her hotel and tried to get into her room to talk, the woman’s father alleged. He said that Kang subsequently offered her a series of payments, which escalated to a total of $100,000, to prevent her from sharing the allegations with her parents. Kang did not respond to multiple requests for comment on Monday. None of the allegations has been proven. The Star also contacted the alleged victim, who is 24 and worked in Kang’s constituency office in Calgary. She declined to speak on the record without consulting her lawyer. “She’s very, very upset,” her father said. “She has so much … on her brain and she cannot sleep at night.” The Hill Times reported on Aug. 11 that Kang was being investigated by the House of Commons human resources officer, Pierre Parent, over alleged sexual harassment. Charles-Eric Lépine, chief of staff to Liberal government whip Pablo Rodriguez, confirmed that allegations have been made, but also declined to answer questions. “We were made aware of the allegations and referred them, as per the House of Commons process, to the chief human resources officer,” he said in an email on Monday. It is not clear if Lépine was referring to the allegation of sexual harassment, the alleged offers of money, or both. A spokesperson from Parent’s office also refused to confirm or deny any ongoing investigation when contacted by the Star. Speaking to reporters Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his government has created new processes to deal with misconduct and harassment allegations involving parliamentarians. “I can assure people that our whip’s office and the human resources of the Parliament of Canada are engaged, as they must be, in this process, and I have no further comment to make at this time on the independent process that is being undergone,” he said. Kang worked in real estate before he was elected to the Alberta legislature for the first time in 2008. The woman joined his staff when she was about 20, her father said. The woman stayed in her job after Kang successfully transitioned to federal politics by winning the riding of Calgary Skyview for the Liberals in the 2015 election. Her father called Kang “a good friend” and said they spoke several times a week by phone until his daughter came forward with her allegations. He also helped Kang during his election campaigns, he said. He said that he and his wife were puzzled when their daughter told them “two or three times” that she wanted to quit her job with Kang. They didn’t hear their daughter’s allegations until after she travelled to Ottawa on June 11 to work for a week on Parliament Hill. The woman’s father said that, one night during that week in Ottawa, Kang offered to take the young staffer to dinner in a taxi, but they wound up going to an apartment instead. Once inside, Kang allegedly held her hand “and said, ‘Oh your hand is very nice, your nail polish is real nice. From where did you get this nail polish?’” the woman’s father said. Kang then offered her wine and tried to remove her jacket, the father said. “He (started) pulling her jacket — ‘ Take the jacket off, take the jacket off,’” he alleged. The next day, Kang followed her to her hotel from Parliament Hill and tried to “force open the door” of her room so they could talk, the woman’s father said. After returning home and speaking with her sister, the woman decided to inform her boss in Kang’s office of the alleged harassment, her father said. That’s when he finally learned his daughter’s story — including the repeated offers of money for her to stay quiet, which he said started at $5,000 and grew to a series of payments totalling $100,000 that began with a $30,000 upfront sum. Days later, Hamilton Liberal MP Filomena Tassi flew to Calgary to interview his daughter and speak with them at their family home, he said. Tassi did not respond to an interview request from the Star on Monday. The woman’s father said he wants Kang to “publicly apologize” and resign from office. He said he will wait for any parliamentary probe to conclude before his family considers legal action. Trudeau has displayed a zero tolerance policy for harassment. In March 2015, when he was leader of the third-place Liberals, Trudeau booted two MPs from caucus over allegations of sexual misconduct from two female New Democrat MPs. Former fisheries minister Hunter Tootoo was also blocked from returning to caucus last year after he resigned from cabinet to enter treatment for alcoholism. It was later revealed that he was in a sexual relationship with a young female staffer.