Regina-Lewvan MP Erin Weir has been kicked out of the federal NDP caucus for speaking publicly about the harassment allegations against him.
Speaking to media Thursday morning in Ottawa, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh said the MP’s recent actions make him think Weir isn’t willing to take responsibility, so he can’t let him stay in the caucus.
Weir was suspended from caucus in February pending an investigation into allegations of harassment made in an email sent by a woman who said he “engaged in harassing behaviour towards women, specifically members of the NDP staff team.”
Although the initial allegations only covered harassment, a report on the investigation made a general finding of sexual harassment, saying Weir “probably sat or stood too close to people at social events and engaged them in conversation more than they wished to speak with him.”
A news release sent Thursday morning from Weir’s office said Singh had notified the MP shortly after midnight on May 2 of his expulsion from caucus, “not because of the report’s findings, but because Weir commented publicly and Singh deemed that unacceptable.”
The release from Weir’s office said the NDP leader had initially decided to reinstate him based on his willingness to participate in conciliation with any complainants.
Weir also responded to the findings in the report saying he had no idea he had done anything unwelcome before this investigation.
“When I read a summary of complaints, it became clear that I was sometimes slow to pick up on social cues,” he said in the release. “Although I still do not know who these complainants are, I apologize to anyone who felt uncomfortable because I stood or sat too close or spoke with them more than they wished to talk with me.”
The former staff member who made the initial complaint against Weir spoke to media Tuesday before the NDP leader was scheduled to announce the findings of the investigation.
In a news release, Weir explained he was asked by media to comment on the complaint, and he then contacted the leader’s office to ask whether he should respond. Weir said Singh’s office did not provide guidance and when the story was published he “felt compelled to respond to the complaint.”
The Regina MP said he complied with instructions to stop commenting later that evening but was told the next night he would be expelled from caucus.
The release from Weir’s office maintains he made a “good faith effort to participate in the process” despite a “deeply flawed investigation.”
It went on to say the NDP leaders’ decision to kick Weir out of caucus was a vastly harsher punishment than has been applied to other MPs who have commented publicly without authorization.
Provincial NDP responds
Saskatchewan NDP leader Ryan Meili said the investigation into Weir is a matter for the federal wing of their party.
“Any such allegations or actions are very concerning to us,” Meili said. “We trust that their process is going to be looking into it fully and that’s a decision of the leader of the federal NDP.”
He said he was surprised when he first heard about the allegations towards the Regina MP.
Meili said there is concern this could affect how people view the provincial party, despite Weir being a federal member. He said the provincial party will ask for details about the investigation and are fully aware of what’s gone on.
-with files from Canadian Press