NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh won’t allow scorned MP Erin Weir to run as a New Democrat in the next election.
In a letter to Weir, Singh says he isn’t confident the Saskatchewan MP won’t repeat the harassing behaviour that got him kicked out of the NDP caucus last spring.
Consequently, Singh says he rejects the MP’s request to be readmitted to the NDP caucus and won’t approve his candidacy for the 2019 election.
Former Saskatchewan NDP cabinet minister Pat Atkinson wrote a letter to Singh on September 5 calling for Weir’s reinstatement. The letter is cosigned by 67 former Saskatchewan NDP MPs and MLAs.
Weir was suspended from the caucus in February after fellow New Democrat Christine Moore sent an email to her caucus colleagues saying she had heard numerous complaints about Weir allegedly harassing staffers.
A subsequent independent investigation upheld several complaints of harassment, which Singh described at the time as a failure to read non-verbal cues in social settings.
However, it was Weir’s response to the findings – publicly dismissing one complaint as payback for a policy dispute he had with a member of former leader Tom Mulcair’s staff – that got him booted out of caucus permanently in May.
Atkinson said that Weir underwent training to correct problematic behaviour. The letter says that the trainer said Weir “gets it”. Complaints against Weir revolve around him standing too close to people, being an intimidating prescience and failing to pick up on non-verbal cues.
In his letter to Weir, Singh says he isn’t satisfied the MP has taken the actions necessary to rectify the damage he did to the NDP’s “work of building a safer workplace and party.”
“I have not seen evidence of a genuine understanding of how your behaviour needs to change or an expression of regret and remorse for describing sustained findings of harassment as ‘trumped up,”‘ Singh writes.
“I have not seen you take responsibility publicly for very publicly harming the reputations of your former caucus colleagues nor work sincerely at repairing the trust and confidence that was broken. I am not confident that the harassing behaviour will not be repeated.”
Singh says his office received this week an email from the president of the union representing staffers working for New Democrat MPs, expressing concern about Weir’s request to be reinstated to caucus.
According to Singh, the union leader said welcoming Weir back into the fold “would put staff at risk and would violate their rights under the collective agreement to a safe, healthy and harassment-free workplace.”
Atkinson said that they have had a former justice minister and legal scholar have reviewed the case, and believe there are grounds for a legal challenge.
“I think what this shows us is that the leader is inexperienced. He hasn’t quite gotten used to the idea that he needs to listen to people, particularly he needs to listen to people. Particularly he needs to listen to people in Saskatchewan,” Atkinson said.
Global News has reached out to Weir, Singh and the NDP for comment.
With files from Global News’ David Baxter