The sexual harassment allegations levelled against Alberta MP Darshan Kang by a female constituency staffer have been “partially substantiated” by a third-party investigator retained by the House of Commons, The Hill Times has learned.
The ruling was contained in the final written confidential investigation report by the investigator, which has since been submitted to House chief human resources officer Pierre Parent.
According to the House of Commons Policy on Preventing and Addressing Harassment, the conclusions of sexual harassment investigations fall into four categories based on the determinations of the investigator. The complaints are ruled to be either substantiated, partially substantiated, not substantiated, or frivolous or in bad faith. The investigator renders their ruling “based upon a balance of probabilities,” according to the guidelines.
A woman who worked as a constituency assistant to Mr. Kang (Calgary Skyview, Alta.), first elected as a Liberal in 2015, filed a formal written complaint of sexual harassment against him to Chief Government Whip and Liberal MP Pablo Rodriguez (Honoré-Mercier, Que.) in June.
Mr. Rodriguez forwarded the complaint to Mr. Parent who hired an independent outside investigator to conduct a detailed investigation of the allegations. After a seven-month probe, the investigator submitted their final written report to Mr. Parent in recent days. Should the complainant or the defendant want to file an appeal to Mr. Parent, they have 15 days to do that.
The complainant, in her 20s, has levelled a number of accusations against Mr. Kang, who was born in 1951 and is in his mid-60s, including repeated unwanted hugs and kisses; grabbing and caressing her hands; making phone calls unrelated to work while intoxicated, outside of work hours, telling her he was in love with her; threatening to fire her if she did not take his phone calls after work hours, and patting her on the lower back.
The staffer has also accused Mr. Kang of trying to enter her hotel room in Ottawa in June despite her refusals, of repeatedly trying to grab at her coat in his Ottawa apartment, attempting to massage her feet, and offering up to $100,000 for not going public with her claims. The staffer worked in Mr. Kang’s constituency office in Calgary, but came to Ottawa in June 2017 for training in the Hill office.
During the course of the probe, the independent investigator interviewed the complainant, Mr. Kang, and relevant witnesses, including the MP’s current and former Hill and constituency staff.
The staffer who has filed a complaint against Mr. Kang declined a comment for this article.
“I have no comment at this time,” the staffer wrote in an email to The Hill Times.
Before winning election to the House in the 2015 vote, Mr. Kang served two terms as a Liberal provincial Alberta legislator. He resigned from the Liberal caucus this past summer after a second woman stepped forward with allegations of sexual impropriety. Mr. Kang has denied all allegations of sexual harassment, which were first reported, in both cases, by The Hill Times.
The second woman, a former constituency staffer to Mr. Kang when he was an MLA, accused Mr. Kang of groping and kissing her. Kirstin Morrell said the unwelcome groping and kissing incidents happened throughout her employment in Mr. Kang’s constituency office.
“He doesn’t understand or seem to care about the word ‘no,’ or about the word ‘stop,’” Ms. Morrell told The Hill Times in August.
“When I worked in his office, he would come up, and he would grab my breasts, he would make me sit next to him.”
Ms. Morrell was not interviewed for the sexual harassment investigation that the House of Commons had undertaken through the third-party investigator.
When reached by The Hill Times by phone last summer, Mr. Kang declined comment on the allegations from Ms. Morell, though later denied all claims of wrongdoing in an emailed statement.
“I have no comment,” Mr. Kang said in a brief phone call initially.
The Hill Times read Ms. Morrell’s quotes to the Alberta MP on the phone, but he said he did not have any reaction. He then sent an emailed statement in which he denied any allegations of wrongdoing but did not directly address the specifics of his former staffer’s claims.
“I fully deny any allegations of misconduct,” read the statement from Mr. Kang.
“I have always acted with the utmost professionalism and integrity and will continue to work to clear my name.”
The Hill Times reached out Mr. Kang’s constituency and Hill offices five times for this story, but no one responded to interview requests, or offered any reaction to the investigation report by deadline last week.
In an emailed statement to The Hill Times, Mr. Rodriguez said that since Mr. Kang is no longer a member of the Liberal caucus, he never received a copy of the report, and declined a comment for this story.
“Reports of this nature are provided to us only when it involves a Liberal Member,” wrote Mr. Rodriguez. “As such, I have not received anything regarding this matter.
According to the MPs’ code of conduct on sexual harassment, if an MP belonging to a partisan caucus is found guilty of sexual harassment, the party whip decides consequences for the MP. In the case of independent MPs, the House clerk decides any appropriate disciplinary action.
When reached by The Hill Times, Heather Bradley, director of communications to the House Speaker, declined comment, citing confidentiality reasons. She said in an email that the House clerk will receive a copy of the report after the 15-day appeal period, and did not say if there will be any disciplinary action taken against Mr. Kang.
“At the end of the 15 working days appeal period the report is provided to the Clerk of the House for further action,” said Ms. Bradley. “In such circumstances the Board of Internal Economy could subsequently become involved if there is a need to consider remedial measures.”
The Hill Times