Manitoba backbencher ousted from PC caucus

The Canadian Press
Steve Lambert

WINNIPEG–A Manitoba government backbencher who made inappropriate comments to female staff has been ousted from the Progressive Conservative caucus.
Caucus chair Wayne Ewasko said he and his colleagues made the decision yesterday to expel Cliff Graydon after discussing what he called “repeated inappropriate behaviour.”
“While we do not take this decision lightly, it has become apparent that previous attempts with Mr. Graydon to address a pattern of inappropriate behaviour have not succeeded,” Ewasko said in a written statement.
“We have acted fairly, swiftly, and respectfully in dealing with this difficult matter while ensuring all policies and procedures were followed and that the privacy and confidentiality of all parties involved were respected,” he added.
Media reports earlier this month quoted unnamed sources as saying Graydon invited two women on separate occasions to sit on his lap, and invited another to lick food off his face.
Premier Brian Pallister said Graydon also is being removed from the board of Crown-owned Manitoba Hydro and will not be allowed to seek the party’s nomination in the next election.
No one in the government caucus would discuss details of Graydon’s actions. Pallister said he wanted to respect the privacy of anyone who came forward and hoped the dismissal sends a message.
“It sends the right signal, I think, about changing the culture around here,” he remarked.
Graydon was not in the legislature chamber yesterday and did not respond to interview requests. He previously has acknowledged making comments to one staff member, although he has not discussed details.
He announced last week that he was going on medical leave for an undisclosed issue and that he would not seek re-election in 2020.
Graydon, in his early 70s, has represented the Emerson constituency near the U.S. border since 2007.
He faced controversy last winter when he used social media to call asylum-seekers who had been crossing the border “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, deleted the tweets, and agreed to step back from social media and undergo sensitivity training, the details of which were never made public.
“We took action to move Mr. Graydon into counselling. He was entered into counselling,” Pallister said yesterday.
“Evidently, that counselling was less than successful.”