Erin Weir to seek NDP nom­i­na­tion de­spite oust­ing

The Recorder & Times (Brockville) - - NATIONAL NEWS -

SURREY, B.C. — Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment Erin Weir says he’ll seek the NDP nom­i­na­tion in his rid­ing again de­spite be­ing re­moved from the party’s cau­cus af­ter an in­ves­ti­ga­tion up­held ha­rass­ment complaints.

Leader Jagmeet Singh has stood firm in his de­ci­sion to block Weir from re­turn­ing to cau­cus or run­ning in the 2019 elec­tion, but the Regina-Lew­van MP says lo­cal New Democrats should de­cide who the nom­i­nee should be.

Weir said he’s knocked on thou­sands of doors in the rid­ing and has “over­whelm­ing sup­port.”

“The real ques­tion is what does Mr. Singh in­tend to do? Will he sim­ply ig­nore the more than 2,000 NDP mem­bers in Regina-Lew­van and ap­point his own can­di­date?” Weir asked.

“If I lost the NDP nom­i­na­tion vote in Regina-Lew­van, I would cer­tainly re­spect the re­sult and not run. How­ever, if Mr. Singh sim­ply ap­points a can­di­date with­out a demo­cratic vote, then I would have to con­sult lo­cal New Democrats about the way for­ward.”

Fur­ther, Weir said a “sig­nif­i­cant” num­ber of NDP mem­bers of Par­lia­ment want to see him re­turn to cau­cus, but they can­not speak out pub­licly be­cause they are sub­ject to Singh’s discipline.

“There are lots of peo­ple in the cau­cus that want me to be part of it. It’s Mr. Singh who’s said he doesn’t want me to be a part of it,” he said.

Weir was sus­pended from the cau­cus in Fe­bru­ary af­ter fel­low New Demo­crat Chris­tine Moore sent an email to her cau­cus col­leagues say­ing she had heard nu­mer­ous complaints about Weir al­legedly ha­rass­ing staffers.

A sub­se­quent in­de­pen­dent in­ves­ti­ga­tion up­held sev­eral complaints of ha­rass­ment, which Singh de­scribed at the time as a fail­ure to read non­ver­bal cues in so­cial set­tings.

How­ever, it was Weir’s re­sponse to the find­ings — pub­licly dis­miss­ing one com­plaint as pay­back for a pol­icy dis­pute he had with a mem­ber of for­mer leader Tom Mul­cair’s staff — that got him booted out of cau­cus per­ma­nently in May.

Weir said he’s com­pleted sen­si­tiv­ity train­ing to bet­ter re­spond to non-ver­bal cues and has re­flected on how to have frank po­lit­i­cal de­bates in ways that won’t make peo­ple feel in­tim­i­dated or em­bar­rassed.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­port has never been re­leased, but Weir posted a let­ter from the sen­si­tiv­ity trainer on his web­site that he says sum­ma­rizes the find­ings. The sex­ual ha­rass­ment complaints in­volved Weir’s habit of stand­ing too close and in­sert­ing him­self into con­ver­sa­tions with oth­ers, the let­ter says.

Sev­eral fe­male NDP ac­tivists ap­plauded Singh’s de­ci­sion to block Weir from run­ning in a let­ter posted on­line this week, coun­ter­ing a let­ter crit­i­ciz­ing the move from 67 for­mer New Demo­crat politi­cians in Saskatchewan.

Singh is in Surrey, B.C., for the NDP cau­cus re­treat and was set to ad­dress re­porters at a wrap-up news con­fer­ence later Thurs­day.

The party leader re­fused to back down from his de­ci­sion on Tues­day, say­ing it’s his re­spon­si­bil­ity to en­sure a safe work­place and ha­rass­ment is un­ac­cept­able in the party.

“I’m not go­ing to change my de­ci­sion be­cause peo­ple in a po­si­tion of priv­i­lege want to in­tim­i­date me,” Singh said.

Weir said it was dis­ap­point­ing that Singh dis­missed 67 long-serv­ing New Demo­crat politi­cians in Saskatchewan as priv­i­leged rather than ad­dress­ing their con­cerns about the lack of due process.

He said he feels a tremen­dous obli­ga­tion to the hun­dreds of peo­ple who worked hard in Saskatchewan to re­gain some fed­eral NDP seats af­ter the party was shut out of the prov­ince for a decade.

“I feel a re­spon­si­bil­ity to try and main­tain and build upon those hard-won gains in Saskatchewan,” he said.

Weir re­mains a sit­ting MP and said he’s ea­ger to re­turn to Par­lia­ment next week and speak up for the peo­ple of his rid­ing.

“I’ve been ac­tive in the NDP since I was 15 and feel a deep affin­ity to the move­ment,” he said. “I never thought I’d be in this sit­u­a­tion. It’s been a difficult process to nav­i­gate, but I try to be fo­cused on the task ahead.” The Cana­dian Press


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