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federal politics

Erin Weir

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has suspended Saskatchewan MP Erin Weir from his duties in caucus and launched an investigation into an allegation of "harassing behaviour towards women" that originated from a fellow New Democrat.

An e-mail sent to the NDP caucus from Quebec MP Christine Moore this week said she has heard of multiple complaints from female staff that Mr. Weir harassed them. Ms. Moore also says in the e-mail she wouldn't feel comfortable meeting with Mr. Weir alone, but doesn't make any specific allegations about his behaviour. Mr. Weir said he was not aware of allegations and is confident he has not harassed anyone.

On Tuesday, Ms. Moore sent an e-mail to the 43 members of caucus in response to a message from Mr. Weir, who was running for the role of NDP caucus chair and looking for support from his colleagues.

"Too many women (mostly employees) complaint to me that you were harassing to them, and as a woman I would not feel comfortable to meet with you alone," Ms. Moore, the NDP MP for Abitibi–Témiscamingue, said in her e-mail. "Given what's going on right now in the political world, I think you should really not run to avoid us any trouble."

Mr. Singh on Thursday said he will launch an investigation based on an e-mail sent to caucus from an NDP MP, although he didn't name Ms. Moore. In the meantime, he said Mr. Weir will be suspended from his role in caucus.

"This is a troubling allegation that I take very seriously. I have spoken with caucus and we will be appointing an independent investigator to conduct a fair and full examination of the facts available," Mr. Singh told reporters in Ottawa. "While that process is ongoing, Mr. Weir's duties as NDP MP will be temporarily suspended. Once the work of the investigator has completed, the MP's role in caucus will be evaluated."

Mr. Singh said nothing that he's read suggests the allegations are sexual in nature. He said there is no specific complainant named in the allegations.

"At this point in time we don't have a survivor or someone who's coming forward specifically," Mr. Singh said. "In this case, we just have a concern that's been raised by one of our members. The concern is serious enough for me to take action."

Mr. Weir currently serves as the party's public services and procurement critic. He will not appear at committees or speak in Question Period, an NDP spokeswoman said, and although he remains in caucus he has chosen not to attend meetings while he's being investigated. Mr. Weir told The Globe he hopes the process is completed by next week.

Mr. Weir said he does not know the specifics of the allegations against him.

"As politicians, we are placed in a position of public trust. We are, and should be, held to the highest possible standards and it is absolutely right that our party has a process to investigate any allegations of harassment," he said in an e-mail.

"However, I do not know what is being alleged. I am confident that I have not harassed anyone and welcome a prompt investigation to clear my name. I look forward to continuing to represent the people of Regina–Lewvan as a member of the NDP caucus."

Ms. Moore said in a statement on Thursday she will be participating in the investigation.

"As you are now aware, I sent an e-mail expressing some concerns I had regarding a colleague's behaviour. It is important that we take this kind of information seriously and I have confidence in the process that is being put in place and will be participating in any way I can," she said.

All three political parties have now launched third-party investigations into harassment or sexual misconduct allegations in their ranks.

On Wednesday, Conservative leader Andrew Scheer ordered an independent third-party investigation into the party's handling of sexual-assault allegations against then-Tory-candidate Rick Dykstra during the 2015 election.

Liberal MP Kent Hehr, the former sport and persons with disabilities minister, remains in caucus after resigning from cabinet over allegations of sexual misconduct. Law firm Rubin Thomlinson is investigating the former cabinet minister's conduct for the government.