Bullying allegations levied against the NDP by a former caucus member are groundless and the party has processes in place to address concerns, says Premier Rachel Notley.
Calgary-East MLA Robyn Luff, who decided to boycott the legislature after accusing NDP leadership of supporting a culture of bullying, was kicked out of the caucus Monday.
Hours earlier, she had publicly slammed her party for issues such as being told to vote with the leader at all times and being restricted in what she could say in the house.
“We understand that that member is not a fan of the parliamentary system and would like to have complete independence in all that she does, but that’s not the way the system works,” Notley told reporters Thursday.
“As far as the other allegations that she made, we’ve since determined through her conversations in public that there really is no foundation to them.”
In her letter, Luff wrote that the caucus was told to stay quiet if they had information on opposition members who had behaved inappropriately toward women “because our party wasn’t completely without fault on the matter.”
Notley vehemently denied that.
“Under no circumstances would that rule be in place by anybody who answers to, or is accountable to me, and in fact none of the leadership in our caucus would ever have said such a thing,” she said.
“It was unfortunate that she put that in her letter because I can tell you … definitively that there’s absolutely no foundation to that particular statement.”
Luff told Postmedia Monday she’s not aware of any situations in either the NDP or opposition parties where someone was sexually harassed at the legislature.
“I’ve had no negative experiences with any of the men in the legislature,” she said.
Her statement on being told to stay quiet referenced a meeting about sexual harassment and how it should be dealt with, she said.
“As I recall, there was an MLA who spoke up at the time and clarified that if you have been sexually harassed, you feel free to talk to whoever you want to,” she said. “But in terms of if you’ve heard something about somebody else or there’s a rumour, that we shouldn’t comment on it.”
Notley said the NDP has internal processes and policies to address harassment and bullying.
“We think it’s quite well developed,” she said.
She reiterated that she was disappointed with the position Luff took, echoing statements she made during question period Tuesday.
Alberta Party house leader Greg Clark had asked about workplace harassment protections.
“With respect, we’ve now had two members of this assembly raise very serious allegations including the alleged coverup of inappropriate behaviour on the part of members on both sides of the house,” he said, referencing Alberta Party MLA Karen McPherson’s decision to leave the NDP last year.
“How can Albertans or those who work in the public service have faith in the anti-bullying policies that are in place when your own government doesn’t seem to play by the same rules?”
McPherson, who left the NDP caucus last year to sit as an Independent before joining the Alberta Party, told reporters Monday that she could corroborate some of Luff’s concerns such as limiting communications.
“I can certainly understand where Robyn is coming from,” she said. “There was definitely a lot of editing of communication from backbenchers.”
Luff won’t run again in 2019, nor will she sit in the house under another party’s banner, she said.
She also won’t return to the legislature this week. Instead, she will consult with her constituents next week during town hall meetings.
With files from Emma Graney
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