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Inappropriate comments stem from outdated sense of humour: Manitoba politician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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    Forces encouraging more sex-assault reports but not helping victims, AG says

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  • OTTAWA — The federal auditor general is taking the military to task for not supporting victims of sexual misconduct.

    Michael Ferguson says that failure threatens to undermine attempts to curb inappropriate and criminal sexual behaviour in the ranks.

    The assessment is contained in a new report that also blasts long delays in resolving cases and the poor training that service members are receiving on the issue.

    Eradicating sexual misconduct is a priority for military commanders after a series of devastating reports in recent years, and Ferguson says awareness is certainly up.

    But Ferguson says his review found that many victims are not being properly supported when they do speak up, which makes it difficult to prosecute cases and undermines confidence in the system.

    The auditor general also says a legal requirement that all service members report inappropriate behaviour actually discourages some victims who don’t want to proceed with a formal complaint from coming forward.

    The Canadian Press


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    Inmates kept in prison too long for lack of halfway houses: auditor

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  • OTTAWA — Canada’s auditor general says hundreds of federal prisoners are having their parole delayed only because the Correctional Service of Canada doesn’t have halfway houses for them to live in.

    In a new report Tuesday, Michael Ferguson says staying in prison, sometimes for months longer than they’re supposed to, hurts offenders’ rehabilitation and prospects for success when they’re released.

    He says the backlog of prisoners waiting more than two months for parole increased tenfold over the last three years, from 25 to almost 260.

    And the shortage of spaces means parolees are increasingly sent to communities where they have no family or supports, and no intention of staying.

    The audit says parole officers often do not get important information about the parolees they are supposed to monitor and help, such as details about health conditions that could affect their ability to live and work on the outside.

    A spot check of 50 cases found that nearly half of the time, parole officers didn’t see their parolees on the right schedule or didn’t check to make sure they were following special parole conditions.

    The Canadian Press


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