February 14, 2018 7:03 pm

‘Culture of concealment… is not the way to go’: Manitoba premier on sexual harassment scandal

Premier Brian Pallister, pictured at the 'state of the province' address in December.

Jordan Pearn / Global News

Premier Brian Pallister has addressed allegations of sexual harassment involving former Manitoba MLA Stan Struthers.

Tuesday, former premier Greg Selinger said he was aware of two complaints over conduct when he was in office and that he was sorry, but that the matter was dealt with at that time.

Selinger also said despite being asked by NDP leader Wab Kinew to resign, he has no plans to do so.

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READ MORE: Former Manitoba premier at odds with current head of NDP over harassment complaints

Pallister told Portage Online News Wednesday that he was ‘deeply saddened’ to learn that the women who made the complaints against Stan Struthers felt that they could not come forward with their concerns until years after the incidents took place.

“We’re cognizant that a culture of concealment, which is evidently what was in place for a long time, is not the way to go. And so, I’ll have more to announce in the next few days on some progress that we’re committed to making,” Pallister said.

“One area I must reference specifically that concerns me greatly is this issue, you know, if anyone wants to work in the civil service, they deserve to be heard. And they deserve to be sure that when they express concerns that they can trust that they’ll be dealt with. And every mother and every father in this province deserves to know their children are going to be working in a safe environment, where they’re going to be respected and they’re gonna be heard. That has to happen, and it hasn’t been happening, and it must happen.”

The Conservative leader was in Portage la Prairie making a funding announcement at the Simplot potato plant.

READ MORE: Potato processing plant in Portage la Prairie getting $460 million expansion

Pallister said his office will be making an announcement next week about changes his government plans to make to ensure there is no repeat of “these kinds of situations”.

“We need to be proactive in disclosure, not conceal things. Barriers have obviously been there between various levels of government, both within the civil service and on the political side — at least from the comments that a number of women have made. So they raised concerns and then they were not taken up. Or if they were, they weren’t acted upon. Either way, that’s not appropriate.”

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