Regina-Lewvan MP Erin Weir is criticizing party leader Jagmeet Singh’s decision to kick him out of the federal NDP caucus in the wake of an investigation into harassment allegations.
Weir was initially suspended from caucus in February after fellow NDP MP Christine Moore sent an email about second-hand allegations of his harassing behaviour toward women.
Singh released the results of the report on Thursday, saying the investigator found evidence to support one allegation of harassment and three allegations of sexual harassment.
In an interview with Gormely Friday, Weir said he was told he would be reinstated based on his willingness to participate in training and conciliation with any complainant. He said the announcement about that resolution was never made public.
“For reasons that remain unclear to me, it kept getting delayed, until on May 1, one of the non-sexual harassment complaints – a complaint that actually arose out of a very legitimate public policy debate on the floor of the 2016 Saskatchewan NDP convention – was leaked to the media,” Weir said.
The former NDP MP said he initially declined to comment, then he contacted Singh’s office to ask if either one of them should respond to the story.
“I definitely thought it was important to address an allegation once it becomes public,” Weir explained, saying he didn’t hear back from Singh’s office.
“CBC ran the story, the complaint was out there in the public domain, it was a complaint that I disputed, so I responded to it publicly.”
Speaking to the media on Thursday, Singh said his decision to expel the MP was based on Weir’s recent actions showing he didn’t take responsibility for his behaviour.
While he maintains he was right to defend himself against the complaint raised this week, Weir said he is sorry for making any women feel uncomfortable and plans to work on reading social cues.
Weir said when he read the report it did not uphold any specific complaints of sexual harassment. He clarified that the report provided a “generalized finding” that he sat or stood too close to people at social events or talked to them for longer than they wanted to talk with him.
Weir pointed out there is a certain amount of ambiguity involved in any non-verbal cues.
“I think everyone at times has trouble interpreting what another person is thinking, I mean none of us are mind-readers,” he commented.
“Reading that summary, I recognize that at times I was slow to pick up on social cues, and I do want to apologize to anyone that I made uncomfortable by standing too close to them or engaging them in conversation more than they wished to speak with me,” Weir said. “I’ve certainly resolved to be more attentive to non-verbal communication in future.”
He said he did complete anti-harassment training with the rest of the NDP caucus last month and he’s open to further opportunities.
While he said he sees the benefit of reading the report for his personal understanding, Weir said he still feels the investigation process itself was flawed, leading to an inevitable negative outcome.
“If you are soliciting anonymous complaints in a political context where there are rivalries and axes to grind you’re likely to get complaints. And if you package them together and put them together in front of an investigator it could look pretty bad.”
Weir said making a public announcement about a harassment investigation will lead people to view their previous interactions with that person through that lens.