Newspaper article The Canadian Press

MP Erin Weir Vows to Keep Fighting after Singh Boots Him from NDP Caucus

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

MP Erin Weir Vows to Keep Fighting after Singh Boots Him from NDP Caucus

Article excerpt

Weir. out of NDP caucus, vows to clear name

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OTTAWA - NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh kicked Saskatchewan MP Erin Weir out of his party's caucus Thursday as he tried to close the book on what has become a messy and increasingly combative controversy for the third-place New Democrats.

But an unrepentant Weir -- pinning at least part of the blame on Singh's own office -- vowed to keep fighting to clear his name of what he has characterized as a politically motivated and unjustified smear campaign from within his own party.

Singh's decision to eject the Regina MP followed a three-month investigation that started when fellow caucus member Christine Moore reported hearing second-hand allegations that Weir had harassed several women.

While Moore said she had not personally experienced anything untoward, Singh deemed the allegation serious enough to suspend Weir from his caucus duties and ask University of Ottawa law professor Michelle Flaherty to investigate.

Flaherty found credible evidence to support one allegation of harassment and three allegations of sexual harassment against Weir, Singh told a news conference outside the House of Commons.

He did not reveal specific details about the allegations, other than to say Weir "failed to read non-verbal cues in social situations and that his behaviour resulted in significant negative impacts on the complainants."

However, he added, "when Mr. Weir was told his advances were unwanted, he stopped." Based on those findings alone, Singh said, it appeared rehabilitation would be adequate to address the problem and ensure it did not happen again.

In an interview, Weir said he was not told the specifics of the sexual harassment complaints, but conceded that his failure to pick up on social cues had made some people uncomfortable -- a problem for which he apologized and that he promised to address.

"I didn't realize I'd done anything unwelcome. But when I had the chance to read the summary of allegations, it became apparent that sometimes I was slow to pick up on social cues," he told The Canadian Press in an interview Thursday.

"I apologize to those who were uncomfortable with me being a bit of a close talker. I've resolved to be more attentive to non-verbal communication in future."

Weir said he agreed on April 19, after he and Singh had a chance to review Flaherty's report, to participate in conciliation with any of the complainants who wanted it, and to undergo training to address the issue raised during the investigation.

But the NDP leader's office kept delaying the announcement, Weir said, until the CBC published a story this past Tuesday in which an unidentified complainant accused him of having spoken to her in an angry and belligerent way.

"When the CBC contacted me about it, I declined to comment," he said. …

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