Saskatchewan MP Erin Weir has been suspended from his duties as an NDP member of parliament, pending the outcome of an independent investigation into allegations of harassment. However, he will remain in caucus.
No survivor has come forward to the party with specific allegations against Weir, party leader Jagmeet Singh told reporters Thursday. Instead, another MP emailed members of caucus with second-hand concerns. According to the email obtained by VICE News, the MP had heard reports from female employees that Weir had harassed them.
The allegations come as the #MeToo movement hits Canadian politics, with several high profile politicians accused of harassment in recent weeks.
In a statement sent to VICE News, Weir said he did not know what the allegations were, and he welcomes a full investigation to clear his name.
Singh announced the decision and investigation Thursday afternoon.
“This is a troubling allegation that I take very seriously,” Singh told reporters. He said there will be a “full and fair” investigation into the allegations. “While that process is ongoing, Mr. Weir’s duties as an NDP MP will be temporarily suspended.”
The move follows an email sent by an NDP MP to members of caucus alleging Weir had harassed his employees. In the email obtained by VICE News, an NDP MP wrote that “too many women (mostly employees)” had complained to her that Weir had harassed them.
“As a woman, I would not feel comfortable to meet with you alone,” she wrote in the email to caucus, which was addressed to Weir. The MP’s office said she was not available for comment.
“As politicians, we are placed in a position of public trust,” Weir wrote in a statement to VICE News. “We are, and should be, held to the highest possible standards and it is absolutely right that our party has a process to investigate any allegations of harassment.
“However, I do not know what is being alleged. I am confident that I have not harassed anyone and welcome a prompt investigation to clear my name. I look forward to continuing to represent the people of Regina–Lewvan as a member of the NDP caucus.”
On Thursday, a staffer told VICE News she was warned about Weir when she first started working on the Hill. VICE News is providing her anonymity because she is afraid to lose her job. She heard from coworkers he had been inappropriate in the past and it was best to just avoid him. More than one person warned her, she said.
It’s not the first time Weir has faced questions regarding misconduct in the workplace.
Last fall, Rylee Schuhmacher, who volunteered for the Saskatchewan NDP, brought forward allegations of sexual assault by one of Weir’s former employees.
When Schuhmacher reported to Saskatoon Police, they told her the case would be “impossible to prove,” CBC reported. The allegations have not been proven in court. As a result of the allegations, the provincial NDP launched two investigations into the matter.
On Thursday, Schuhmacher told VICE News she had concerns with how Weir handled the allegations against his employee. She said Weir publicly defended his employee by saying no one in his office was harassed.
“It came to my attention that one of the people who had temporarily worked in my office this past summer has been accused of sexual assault,” Weir told the Hill Times in a statement last November.
“Given the seriousness of these allegations, I immediately spoke with each of my employees,” Weir said. “All of my staff reported that they had not experienced any unwanted attention or inappropriate behaviour from coworkers.”