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Inappropriate comments stem from outdated sense of humour: Manitoba politician

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  • WINNIPEG — A Manitoba legislature member who was booted from the governing Progressive Conservative caucus over inappropriate remarks said Thursday he is not a sexual harasser, but later admitted some of his comments could be construed as harassment.

    Cliff Graydon, 72, described himself as a product of a bygone era as he answered questions for the first time since being ejected by the Tories last month.

    “People who know me best can verify I have never been accused of anything remotely resembling sexual harassment,” Graydon said at a news conference.

    “I admit I’m guilty of having of having a bad sense of humour and sincerely apologize to those who have been offended by my inconsiderate jokes. I have grown up in a different era and realize some people today are much more sensitive to inappropriate humour.”

    Graydon was kicked out of caucus last month after media reports he invited two junior staff members to sit on his lap and invited one to lick food off his face. Caucus chair Wayne Ewasko said Graydon had exhibited a “pattern of inappropriate behaviour,” but would not reveal details.

    Graydon said Thursday he has no memory of asking anyone to lick his face and feels the lap incidents were misreported.

    “I have never asked anyone to sit on my lap — that’s a media term. The comment was ‘You can sit on my knee or I can get you a chair’.”

    Graydon was asked whether he considers that statement harassment.

    “I didn’t at the time, no. But apparently — today — yes it is.”

    Graydon said his inappropriate actions never involved touching, but there may have been many more cases of verbal comments.

    “There could be many in my past. I have no idea, with my sense of humour.”

    Graydon said he will sit as an Independent and will not run for re-election in 2020.

    Premier Brian Pallister said Graydon has handled the situation with “grace.”

    “I can only say that I believe that he’s responded in a reasonable way and he’s apologized, that he’s taken any actions that he felt were necessary.” 

    Graydon was first elected in 2007 and represents the Emerson constituency — an area where asylum-seekers have been crossing the United States border on foot to gain entry into Canada.

    Graydon stirred up controversy last winter when he called the asylum-seekers “a drain on society.” He also retweeted other people’s posts that called Prime Minister Justin Trudeau a traitor, a scumbag and a disgrace.

    Graydon apologized at the time, deleted the tweets and agreed to undergo sensitivity training, the details of which were never made public.

    “I learned a lot from my sensitivity training,” Graydon said.

    “But like I said, I came from a different era and it does take time to change. You do slip sometimes.”

    Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press


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    Feds poised to bolster RCMP accountability

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  • OTTAWA — The federal government is poised to try to improve RCMP accountability by placing some external eyes on the national police force.

    Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale and RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki are expected to announce the plans at a news conference in Ottawa on Wednesday.

    The long-anticipated move is the latest attempt at rebuilding the force following years of sagging morale over internal bullying and harassment.

    Insiders say the measures to be announced Wednesday are the beginning of a process that involves several steps to ensure the force benefits from independent advice and scrutiny.

    The announcement will represent the Liberal government’s response to two critical 2017 reports.

    In the first, the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP said the force lacked both the will and the capacity to address the challenges that afflict its workplaces.

    The commission urged the government to usher in civilian governance or oversight for the paramilitary-style police force.

    The second report, a review by former auditor general Sheila Fraser of four harassment lawsuits from female members, also called for substantial reforms.

    At the time, Goodale said both reports described “similar serious and long-standing concerns” and would “inform further action” to ensure that the RCMP is a healthy and respectful employer.

    Lucki became the RCMP’s first permanent female boss last year when she took over the commissioner’s post from Bob Paulson.

    Before he left, Paulson delivered an apology to hundreds of current and former female officers and employees who were subjected to discrimination and harassment dating back as far as four decades.

    The words of regret came as the Mounties settled class-action lawsuits stemming from allegations that cast a dark pall over the force.

    The Trudeau government has directed Lucki to modernize and reform the RCMP’s culture, protect employees from harassment and workplace violence, and foster reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.

    Goodale’s mandate letter to Lucki, issued last year, also asked her to make the force representative of Canada’s diverse population by embracing gender parity and ensuring that women, Indigenous members and minority groups are better reflected in positions of leadership.

    Another priority is implementing measures to improve health and wellness after an auditor’s report found the force was failing to meet the mental-health needs of its members due to a lack of resources, poor monitoring and meagre support from supervisors.

    Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press


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    National

    Google wants court to decide whether search curbs would infringe charter rights

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  • OTTAWA — Google wants the Federal Court to decide whether limiting search-engine results in the name of privacy would infringe Canadians’ constitutional guarantee of free expression.

    The leading internet search engine advocates broadening an upcoming court hearing to squarely address the question.

    Privacy commissioner Daniel Therrien has asked the Federal Court to clarify if Google’s popular search tool is covered by the law governing how companies handle personal information.

    A man who says a Google search reveals outdated and highly personal information about him will be the test case that helps a judge decide whether the search engine must remove the links from its results.

    Therrien argues the federal law on private-sector use of personal information includes such a right to de-indexing.

    In documents filed with the court, Google says the privacy commissioner’s reference application is illogical and inefficient because it is too narrow and therefore won’t fully explore the relevant constitutional questions.

    The Canadian Press


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