Lib­eral MP de­nies sex ha­rass­ment claim

NDP de­mands PM sus­pend Dar­shan Kang from cau­cus

Winnipeg Free Press - - NEWS - JOAN BRY­DEN

TTAWA — Lib­eral MP Dar­shan Kang is ve­he­mently deny­ing al­le­ga­tions that he re­peat­edly sex­u­ally ha­rassed a young fe­male staffer in his Cal­gary con­stituency of­fice and is vow­ing to de­fend his rep­u­ta­tion “at all costs.”

Kang is­sued a state­ment Tues­day pro­claim­ing his in­no­cence even as a damn­ing new al­le­ga­tion sur­faced that he tried to buy the woman’s si­lence. The NDP de­manded that Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau im­me­di­ately sus­pend the Cal­gary MP from the Lib­eral cau­cus un­til an in­ves­ti­ga­tion is com­pleted.

For the sec­ond con­sec­u­tive day, Trudeau re­fused to com­ment on the mat­ter, say­ing only that it’s be­ing han­dled through a re­cently cre­ated in­de­pen­dent process for re­solv­ing such mis­con­duct com­plaints and that he’ll let the process “un­fold as it should.”

But Kang’s vow to ex­haust all ef­forts to de­fend him­self sug­gests that process could drag on for weeks or even months.

Un­der a process adopted by the House of Com­mons in De­cem­ber 2014, when there is no me­di­ated res­o­lu­tion to a ha­rass­ment com­plaint, an ex­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tor is hired to re­view the facts and in­ter­view the com­plainant, the re­spon­dent and any wit­nesses be­fore de­ter­min­ing whether the com­plaint is par­tially or fully sub­stan­ti­ated, not sub­stan­ti­ated or friv­o­lous.

Ei­ther the com­plainant or the re­spon­dent can ap­peal if they’re un­sat­is­fied with the in­ves­ti­ga­tor’s fi­nal re­port, re­quir­ing an ap­peal panel to be ap­pointed con­sist­ing of one mem­ber cho­sen by the com­plainant, one by the re­spon­dent and an ex­ter­nal ex­pert.

There is no time limit on ei­ther the in­ves­ti­ga­tion or the ap­peal.

Ac­cord­ing to Kang’s state­ment, the al­le­ga­tions against him are cur­rently the sub­ject of “an open, on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion.” He left lit­tle doubt he’ll ap­peal should the in­ves­ti­ga­tor rule against him.

“Since the al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual ha­rass­ment were lev­elled against me I have been un­der a tremen­dous amount of stress and sub­se­quently I was placed on med­i­cal leave,” Kang said.

“While I can­not com­ment di­rectly on an open, on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion, I con­tinue to pro­claim my in­no­cence and will de­fend my rep­u­ta­tion at all costs.”

Sheila Mal­colm­son, the New Demo­crat critic

Ofor women’s is­sues, called on Trudeau to sus­pend Kang from the Lib­eral cau­cus im­me­di­ately — as he did with for­mer Lib­eral MPs Scott An­drews and Mas­simo Pacetti when they were accused in 2014 of sex­u­ally ha­rass­ing two fe­male New Demo­crat MPs.

“I am at a loss as to why he has re­fused to take sim­i­lar ac­tion in re­sponse to these al­le­ga­tions,” she said in a state­ment, adding that Trudeau’s si­lence on Kang is at odds with his pro­fessed “zero tol­er­ance” ap­proach to sex­ual ha­rass­ment.

“That is not the lead­er­ship of a fem­i­nist prime min­is­ter.”

How­ever, the in­de­pen­dent process Trudeau is now re­ly­ing on to sort out the Kang case did not ex­ist when the ac­cu­sa­tions of sex­ual ha­rass­ment were lev­elled against An­drews and Pacetti.

In the ab­sence of a process, and fear­ing the NDP would ac­cuse him of cov­er­ing up the al­le­ga­tions if he did not act im­me­di­ately, Trudeau sus­pended the pair while an out­side lawyer was brought in to in­ves­ti­gate. After four months, An­drews and Pacetti vol­un­tar­ily re­signed per­ma­nently from the Lib­eral cau­cus, jump­ing be­fore they were pushed.

Trudeau faced con­sid­er­able crit­i­cism of his han­dling of the mat­ter, par­tic­u­larly over his de­ci­sion to bounce the pair from cau­cus, leav­ing their rep­u­ta­tions in tat­ters, be­fore the al­le­ga­tions against them had even been in­ves­ti­gated.

That ex­pe­ri­ence likely ac­counts for Trudeau’s ap­par­ent re­lief that he can con­sign the Kang case to the in­de­pen­dent process and keep his own hands clean.

“Over the past two years, we have de­vel­oped here in Par­lia­ment a strong series of pro­cesses to deal with ha­rass­ment al­le­ga­tions and com­plaints of this type and we are pleased that there is a process in place where there hasn’t been in pre­vi­ous years,” he said Tues­day.

The Toronto Star re­ported Tues­day that Kang al­legedly of­fered the staffer as much as $100,000 if she didn’t tell her par­ents about the ha­rass­ment. The Star cited the woman’s fa­ther, who was not named, al­leg­ing that Kang re­peat­edly ha­rassed his daugh­ter over a pe­riod of four or five years.

Among the fa­ther’s ac­cu­sa­tions: Kang gave his daugh­ter un­wanted hugs, stroked or held her hand, once took her to an apart­ment where he tried to re­move her jacket and fol­lowed her the next day to her ho­tel and tried to get into her room to talk.

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