Tag Archive: MeToo

Apology by Kristin Raworth

Kristin Raworth is a woman who works for the Alberta government and who used to follow me on Twitter. About two years ago, Raworth publicly tweeted at me that she had been sexually harassed by Kent Hehr, a Liberal member of the federal cabinet who represented a Calgary riding.

I quickly got in touch with Raworth privately, and cautioned her that she was making a serious allegation and that she needed proof. She insisted that she had proof, and would keep tweeting.

As expected, the news media took notice. After she went public, Raworth claimed that she was starting to receive “hundreds” of threats and attacks. She insisted that she was afraid and had PTSD.

I supported her; I believed her. I defended her on the radio, in newspaper columns, in social media, and on this website. I even worked to find her legal representation, pro bono.

There was an investigation into her allegations. Hehr stepped aside from the cabinet while the investigation was underway, but remained a member of the Liberal caucus.

Its results were not made public. Hehr apologized, however, and was later defeated in the 2019 election. Raworth went on to become a micro-celebrity, and commenced advertising herself as a #MeToo survivor.

I did not know her personally. I only met Raworth once, when she came to hear me speak at the University of Alberta’s faculty of law. She said she was a fan.

Raworth would also regularly message me privately, asking me to retweet statements that she had written on Twitter. I’d usually do so.

Last year, around Christmas, Raworth abruptly soured on me. She became very critical online. People choose sides in divorces, and Raworth didn’t choose mine. That’s fine. I wrote to her and said I was sad she felt the way she did, but I wished her the best. I ignored her after that.

Until the last night of March, that is. On that night, some of my readers sent me a screencap of a post Raworth had put on Twitter and addressed to national radio broadcaster Charles Adler and the entire #cdnpoli hashtag.

She told Adler I shouldn’t be allowed on his show because I “abuse” women, plural, and I had “hit my wife.” Those are quotes.

I was astonished; I was literally winded. I felt sick to my stomach that she – or anyone – could willfully publish such a despicable lie about me.

I went online to see if the tweet was still there. There were lots and lots of tweets; I couldn’t see it. I didn’t sleep much that night.

The next morning, I hired a lawyer and sent Kristin Raworth a libel notice. After a month, that has finally resulted in the apology you see above; the payment of my legal fees; and a substantial donation, at my insistence, to Equal Voice.

At the end of this sickening episode, I’ve only got three things to say. One, anyone who falsely alleges that I hit or abuse women, ever, is also going to get sued. And they are going to pay a steep price, as Kristin Raworth did.

Two, I wish I had never, ever supported Kristin Raworth.

Three, to Kent Hehr, wherever you are: I now wonder whether you deserved better.

I wonder that a lot.


My latest: when zero tolerance doesn’t mean zero

Zero tolerance. 

That’s what he said.  Those are the words he used. 

Justin Trudeau has said, many times, that he and his party have “zero tolerance” for sexual harassment and sexual misconduct. 

As recently as 2018, he gave inspiring interviews to Canadian Press and CBC about the subject.  Here’s what he said. 

“We have no tolerance for this — we will not brush things under the rug, but we will take action on it immediately,” he declared to The Canadian Press, describing how his political party and government regard sexual harassment. 

He said the same sort of thing to CBC Radio in an interview around the same time.  There, the self-proclaimed Feminist Prime Minister proclaimed: “I’ve been very, very careful all my life to be thoughtful, to be respectful of people’s space and people’s headspace as well.”

He respects your headspace, our Prime Minister does.  So, as if to emphasize the point, he noted he had earlier banished a pair of Liberal MPs for alleged sexual impropriety. 

In 2014, he expelled two MPs from the Liberal caucus — Scott Andrews and Massimo Pacetti — before he told them why.  An investigation came later, and it determined that Andrews had indeed engaged in harassing behaviour (groping and grinding), while Pacetti was found to have had having sex with someone (without explicit consent). 

So far so good.  We don’t need sexual creeps and crawlies in our lives.  We particularly don’t need them in Canadian public life.  Well done, Trudeau. 

And then, two years ago this week, this writer received a message from a female Member of Parliament.  One who really was a feminist, and one who had female friends in all of the political parties in the Hill. 

“Have you seen the story about Trudeau groping a reporter in BC?” she said.  “It happened years ago, but still.”

I had not, I told her.  The Liberal Party’s “zero tolerance” policy was a hot topic, that June, because of a controversy swirling around Liberal cabinet member Kent Hehr.  An Alberta woman, Kristin Raworth, had tweeted to me vague allegations of sexual impropriety by Hehr, who was and is a quadriplegic. 

Hehr properly removed himself from cabinet while an investigation was underway.  He later lost his Calgary seat in the 2019 election.  (Tellingly, perhaps, Raworth was later obliged to apologize, retract, and pay substantial damages for false allegations – “he hit his wife” – she made against this writer in March.)

But two years ago, the Kent Hehr story had made sexual harassment stories big news.  Me Too, too. 

And a Member of Parliament had just told me Justin Trudeau had groped a reporter in BC.  She had the article, she said.  She sent it to me. 

It was an editorial, unsigned, from the Creston Valley Advance.  It was easy to determine who the author was, but I would not name her (and have never named her).  I posted a screenshot of the editorial, the reporter’s name on the Advance’s masthead removed.  Apart from asking “what?” in the title of the post, I said nothing else. 

The editorial was titled “Open Eyes.”  The author stated that Trudeau had groped her, quote unquote, at a beer festival in 2000.  Trudeau had “inappropriately handled the reporter,” the editorial read, while she was in assignment for the Advance as well as the National Post. 

When confronted about his actions – which, in many other cases, would be regarded as a sexual assault – Trudeau offered an explanation, not a real apology.  “I’m sorry,“ he said.  “If I had known you were reporting for a national paper, I would have never been so forward.”

Meaning: you’re fair game, woman, if you’re reporting for a small paper. 

When I posted the screenshot of the editorial, it went viral, as they say.  It became international news.  When Trudeau – now a Prime Minister – finally deigned to respond, he offered up an explanation that has since become an object of ridicule.  There hadn’t been a “negative interaction,” he said, although the editorial certainly suggested that was not the case. 

Said Trudeau about his victim: “Who knows where her mind was, and I fully respect her ability to experience something differently.”

Implying the victim had some unnamed mental instability, and declaring that she experienced sexual assault “differently” doesn’t sound terribly feminist, does it?  But Justin Trudeau survived the scandal.  He was re-elected. 

Two years later, the issue is back.  This time, a Liberal backbencher is facing assault, break and enter, and criminal harassment charges from 2015.  A woman is among the victims.

And Trudeau knew all about it.  The allegations were substantiated by an internal Liberal Party probe, the CBC revealed this week. 

But Trudeau let the backbencher run under his party’s banner anyway.  Trudeau signed the MP’s nomination papers.  

We could go on, but – by now – you get the point.  And the point is this. 

When Justin Trudeau said he had a “zero tolerance” policy, he didn’t actually mean there was “zero tolerance” for sexual misconduct. 

He meant there was literally zero that he wouldn’t tolerate.


Column: Liberals and sexual harassment

Forgiveness.

When is it owed, politically? By whom, and when? Who should dispense it, and who should receive it?

Not abstract questions. Not, certainly, on the weekend that federal Liberals were gathering in Halifax for their annual convention.  Not in the case of Liberal MP Francis Drouin – who stands accused of sexual assault in downtown Halifax, just hours before a workshop on sexual harassment was about to get underway.

Not abstract, either, in the difficult and ongoing case of Droin’s colleague – and former cabinet minister- Kent Hehr.

The Drouin case is still being investigated by Halifax police – so we should wait to see if charges are laid. But the facts in the Hehr case are notorious and well-known – and (full disclosure) indirectly involve this writer.  In the same week in January that CTV News unleashed its blockbuster story about former Ontario PC leader Patrick Brown, a regular reader – one who had asked me to speak at a #MeToo rally in Edmonton – tweeted at me. This is what she tweeted:

“My political #MeToo moment @kinsellawarren: I’ve debated this. But that’s the power of sexual harassment. My first day working at the Alberta legislature I was told to avoid being in an elevator with Kent Hehr. He would make comments. He would make you feel unsafe.”

I retweeted what she said. Within hours, hundreds of others retweeted or liked it, as well. It went viral.

The next day, as revelations about Patrick Brown‎ were still landing – and revelations about the just-dumped Nova Scotia PC leader, as well – Kent Hehr abruptly cancelled a funding announcement in Toronto. Shortly afterwards, Hehr resigned from cabinet.

For reasons that are unclear, the Prime Minister kept him in caucus, however.  And an ostensibly arms-length investigation remains ongoing into the various allegations against Hehr.

Fast-forward to this week:  the federal Liberals are holding their 2018 national convention in Halifax.  On Saturday morning, they scheduled a workshop called “Ensuring Safe Spaces and Ending Harssment.”

One of the attendees at the convention – a survivor of abuse – contacts this writer.  “I’m concerned that [Kent] Hehr’s attendance at the sexual harassment workshop will hijack the discourse and make people feel uncomfortable,” she wrote. “But it’s a great PR exercise for him.”

She continues: “I agree that men are the target audience, but NOT one under active investigation!”

The CBC’s Katie Simpson reports that Hehr has been invited to the workshop by Julie Lalonde, described by the Liberals in their online program as a Women’s Rights Advocate and Public Educator.  In her story, Simpson writes: “Julie Lalonde is not afraid of uncomfortable conversations. As a public educator, she embraces them for the teachable moments they offer.  That’s why she invited Liberal MP Kent Hehr to one of two workshops on sexual harassment she’s hosting this weekend at the Liberal Party of Canada convention in Halifax.”

Said Lalonde to Simpson: “I would love to see Kent Hehr attend.”

The women who have contacted this writer, however – as well as one of the Alberta women who came forward to accuse Hehr of inappropriate behavior – are not happy to hear about that.  At all.

One of Hehr’s accusers tells me: “[Lalonde] is giving him redemption when he has not earned it.”  Another woman at the conference is similarly outraged: “TVO removed Steve Paikin from covering sexual misconduct/harassment stories pending the investigation. That is smart and respectful.  I feel very shaken as a rape survivor [by Hehr’s planned presence at the workshop].”

Lalonde, however, strenuously denies that she invited Kent Hehr, and insists that CBC got it wrong.  “I didn’t invite him. The headline is misleading,” she writes.  “I was asked if I wanted him to be there and I said he clearly needed to learn so he should come.”

When told that women have contacted this writer to complain about Lalonde’s willingness to let Hehr attend, she responds: “That’s fair. [But] I am not redeeming him. He will not be acknowledged by me.  I refuse to pretend he’s the only issue in the party. MANY men are abusive in politics. Unless I ban all men, abusers will be in the room.”

And that, of course, is indisputably true: many male abusers still lurk in the corridors of power.  #MeToo has unmasked some of them, but not all.  They are still out there.  Some even pretend to be supporters of the #MeToo movement.

What, then to do about Kent Hehr? Should he be permitted to attend workshops like Lalonde’s, and thereby achieve some small PR victory – or, ideally, learn something?  Or, as his (many) critics have said, Hehr should be removed from the Liberal party caucus – and barred from workshops like the one in Halifax – until (a) the investigation is over and (b) he performs an act of contrition that is clear and unambiguous and public?

Women should decide, not men. Women, after all, are disproportionately the victims of male political predators.

This man’s take, offered merely as an opinion: Kent Hehr should have stayed away, and Julie Lalonde should not have said she would “love” to have had him there.

Until the investigation is complete – and until all the facts are known – that workshop belonged to the women.

Not Kent Hehr. Not Francis Drouin, either.


It’s all over before it’s started (updated)

As predicted: his strategy is to destroy his former political home.

He’s doing that.

This turns the PC Party of Ontario into a running joke. Their leadership race becomes a farce.

All that can save them now is another young woman coming forward to tell her story.

Will she?

UPDATE:


Patrick Brown, P.I. (updated)

Welcome to today’s class in how not to do P.R., folks.  Today’s case study is Patrick Brown, former leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

Three weeks ago, CTV  broadcast a report that Brown had engaged in graphic sexual misconduct with two very young women.  He denied the allegations of the two young women, but he stepped down a few hours after the CTV report.

His party started a leadership race to replace him.  All of the candidates seem to be a lot more popular than he was.

Three weeks after he resigned, Brown hired a PR firm and started a media tour.  He attacked the young women who made the allegations against him.  The two young women doubled down on their stories, refusing to back off.

I have been told by CTV folks that Brown has not taken steps to sue them or his accusers.  And he’s rapidly running out of time to do so.  In my view, until he serves a Libel Notice, I don’t give a rat’s ass about whatever he has to say.  It’s all spin or bullshit, at this point.

Oh, and this: Patrick Brown has hired private investigators. (UPDATE: These guys, I’m told.)

I found that out on-air, on CFRA on Monday afternoon.  I was on Evan Solomon’s show with Karl Belanger and Alise Mills when Alise said she was working with Brown, and that he had hired private investigators.  Here’s what she said: “Patrick has hired someone to do the forensics, a P.I., he’s got a very strong legal team.”

That was news.

Evan and I started questioning Alise, who I know to be an honest person.  She didn’t walk back her statement.  She stood by it.

To repeat: Patrick Brown has hired private investigators to do “forensics.”  Forensics are defined  as “scientific tests or techniques used in connection with the detection of crime.”

So, whose crime?  And who are they investigating?  There are only three possibilities, because there are only three groups of participants in this sordid tale.

  1. One possibility is Patrick Brown has hired private investigators to do “forensics” on him.  Given that he’s the client, this isn’t highly likely.
  2. Another possibility is that Patrick Brown has hired private investigators to discredit the CTV team who worked on this story.  I’ve been told by two sources at CTV that they think P.I. types are indeed following them around.
  3. The only other possibility is that Patrick Brown has hired private investigators to discredit and attack the two young women who made the allegations in the first place.

Those are the only possibilities.  If it’s either 2 or 3, it is big, big news: a sitting member of the provincial legislature has hired private investigators to go after the media and two young women who claim to have been sexually assaulted. (Another possibility: he’s investigating other MPPs: but that would be a clear violation of their Parliamentary privilege.)

Anyway. If the above is true – if what Alise Mills revealed on Monday is indeed the case – I do not see how Patrick Brown can be permitted to retain his seat.

Digging up dirt on reporters, doing their jobs?  Digging up dirt on alleged victims of sexual assault? Digging up dirt on fellow MPPs?

That’s not the kind of person we need in our provincial parliament.


Adler-Kinsella Show: in which I defend Trudeau on personkind, and on all kinds of pipelines

Every Thursday, I have a radio-via-phone encounter with my great friend Charles Adler.  This week, the encounter took place by luggage rack two at Calgary’s Airport (said airport having received more snow than the North Pole before we started wrecking the planet).

I valiantly defended the Prime Minister on personkind-gatewhich shows no signs of abating, and may be getting worse – because I actually believe him when he said he was trying to make a dumb joke that fell flat.  But you only get so many of those “it’s just a joke” mulligans in this business.

I defended him on the growing Alberta-B.C. spat, too.  I said to him what I have heard from so many partisan Conservatives and Liberals here in Alberta: they admire Rachley Notley’s intelligence and guts.  She may still lose to Jason Kenney, but there’s a lot of admiration for her here – particularly for how she’s taking on the nation-wrecker Horgan.

Anyway, here it is.  Me, I’m now off to many hours of lectures at the Faculty of Law!