New Democrat Leader Jagmeet Singh waved off the suggestion Wednesday of any link between the allegations of sexual misconduct against NDP MP Christine Moore and her history of bringing forward similar complaints against other members of Parliament.
Moore was temporarily suspended from her caucus duties pending the results of an investigation after a former soldier and Afghan war veteran accused her this week of inappropriate sexual behaviour.
The allegations surfaced less than a week after fellow MP Erin Weir was kicked out of the NDP caucus based on the results of an investigation that was launched when Moore flagged concerns about his behaviour in January.
But Moore was also at the centre of a high-profile sexual misconduct case in late 2014 and early 2015 that saw two Liberal MPs expelled from their caucus.
The Canadian Press sought and received permission Wednesday to identify Moore as a complainant in that case after media reports identified her as having levelled accusations.
Singh said Wednesday that retired corporal Glen Kirkland’s allegations against Moore were “not relevant at all” to the Weir case, or to her role three years ago in the controversy that ultimately ended the political careers of then-Liberal MPs Scott Andrews and Massimo Pacetti.
“An allegation that has now arisen, which we take seriously, in no way should cast any question of credibility about other allegations,” Singh said Wednesday in his first public comments since Moore’s suspension.
“This notion has happened far too often to women and is not an acceptable line of argument.”
The NDP leader specifically defended the investigation by University of Ottawa law professor Michelle Flaherty into the harassment complaints against Weir, which he described as impartial and independent.
Flaherty’s final report concluded that there was evidence to support three complaints of sexual harassment and one of harassment; Weir has disputed the latter, and blames the former on his being a “close talker.”
A sanguine Pacetti told The Canadian Press on Wednesday that he doesn’t believe that the allegations against him, which Moore first raised with then-Liberal leader Justin Trudeau in October 2014, were handled properly.
But while he questioned some of the public statements that Moore made at the time, the former Montreal MP — who opted not to run for re-election after being booted from Liberal caucus — refused to cast aspersions on her version of events.
“Everybody has a different interpretation and I think that is still what society is dealing with,” he said, adding: “I’ve never mentioned her name and there’s no need to go down that road.”
On the latest allegations against Moore, Pacetti said: “It’s unfortunate, and I’m not going to get any enjoyment out of somebody else’s misery.”
Kirkland has said many people were aware of Moore’s alleged behaviour towards him, but he believes it was not taken as seriously, because of their respective genders.
Singh said he and his team did not know about the allegations until Kirkland spoke to the media on Tuesday, at which point the NDP leader suspended Moore and began looking for an independent investigator.
“Any time allegations are made aware to me, I have made it a responsibility of mine and a commitment of mine to listen to complaints when they come forward and to take them seriously, to act,” Singh said.
“And the actions I take are to investigate and then once investigations are completed, if there are people responsible, I make it my responsibility to hold those to account.”
For her part, Moore has said she welcomes Singh’s decision to launch an investigation into Kirkland’s complaints and told the Globe and Mail on Wednesday that she disputed Kirkland’s version of events.
“This happened five years ago, so I have to go through different things to remember everything. But I will answer to that,” she told the newspaper.
“You will find out that there is some stuff that [does] not stick with his story.”
Kirkland, who was severely wounded in Afghanistan in 2008, says Moore asked him back to her office after he testified before a parliamentary committee in June 2013 about the treatment of ill and injured soldiers. He alleges she plied him with alcohol, sent him explicit messages and even turned up unannounced at his Manitoba home before he forcibly told her to stop.
“I’m not claiming rape or anything,” said Kirkland, who is now a real estate agent in Brandon, Man.
But, he said, “she was inappropriate. She used her position of power and authority to get what she wanted.”
Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press