Demand Erin Weir's Resignation

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September 20, 2018

 

Dear Saskatchewan provincial and federal NDP members, past and present:


We are people who worked and volunteered with Erin Weir, and who donated our time and money to get him elected in Regina-Lewvan. We are people who currently live in or have lived in Saskatchewan, who are represented by Erin Weir as our Member of Parliament, and who are members of the provincial and/or federal branches of the NDP. Together, we are people who are disgusted by Erin Weir’s behaviour.


During a third-party investigation that concluded in May, 2018, many women came forward to express concerns about Weir’s behaviour. Evidence substantiated three claims of sexual harassment, and one claim of harassment. The report found Weir’s behaviour to have caused “significant negative impacts” for the complainants. Weir chose to publicly politicize the investigation by lashing out in the media against one of these complainants, framing her accusations as trying to prevent him from debating policy issues, and publicly shaming her for coming forward. He also suggested that the investigation itself was an effort to smear him. By speaking to media in this way, Weir showed that he did not respect the investigation and internal process of accountability for his actions.


After being removed from caucus for these actions, Weir continued to deny any accountability, telling the media that his behaviour was “far from what most Canadians would consider harassment.” This statement, and his subsequent attempts to be reinstated to caucus, minimize the experiences of the women who came forward, and rely heavily on the harmful stereotype that “it’s not as bad as women are saying.” These are clear moves by Weir to employ stereotypes for his benefit, and by doing so, he is using his position of power to perpetuate toxic dynamics that make it difficult for women to come forward.


In a letter to the federal party leader, Jagmeet Singh, several former NDP MPs and MLAs expressed their concern - not with the safety of the women involved - but with the process by which Weir was removed from caucus. They claim that no formal complaint had been filed before Singh launched the investigation into Weir’s actions. Following this, several women filed complaints against Weir with their union. Likely, no formal complaints had been filed previously because the victims feared they would lose their jobs or be dragged through the media, as has been the case in similar situations in the past. Thankfully, Singh took this indication of Weir’s behavior seriously and launched the investigation.


Weir’s actions since have shown that he isn’t serious about learning from this experience; he does not care to understand the experiences of the women involved, to be held accountable for his behaviour towards them, nor to prevent further harm from being done. After being found to have sexually harassed three women and harassed one woman, Weir’s first electronic communication to his constituents did not include an apology or outline a restorative path forward. Instead, Weir jokingly mentioned that he was being “roasted” by the media, and quoted various media sources that defended him, including one that said that “this case is sure to become Exhibit A of the #MeToo movement going too far.”


It is incredibly irresponsible and borderline misogynistic for an MP to quote a media story that claims a movement about sexual harassment is “going too far.” Weir and his staff members seem to lack a very basic understanding of what sexual harassment is. While sexual assault encompasses unwanted sexual activity, sexual harassment encompasses discriminatory comments and behaviour, persistent unwanted attention, jokes, threatening language, comments about sex, and disparaging language about someone’s gender; some of which Weir was found to have perpetrated on three accounts. In addition, since 1 in 3 women will experience some form of sexual violence in their lifetime, many of the recipients of his email are likely to have been survivors of sexual assault themselves. Sending an email criticising the #MeToo movement, which finally brought this devastating fact about sexual assault and harassment to light, is equivalent to an attack on survivors by an MP who is employing harmful stereotypes in defense of such actions. Further, Weir should be aware of this issue, in particular because his riding is in Saskatchewan, where rates of sexual harassment and assault are amongst the highest in the country.


Weir’s email to constituents also claimed that “journalists and former MPs are roasting the extreme decision to expel Erin.” By labelling the decision to expel him from caucus as “extreme,” he is again relying on outdated and dangerous stereotypes about “feminist extremists” who have “gone too far,” while downplaying his own harassing behaviour. By actively employing these stereotypes about women, Weir is further contributing to the toxic culture of dismissing women’s experiences that has allowed sexual harassment on Parliament Hill and in political spaces to thrive. If several women have notified their union that they feel unsafe working with Weir, and an independent report found that women have suffered significant negative impacts from Weir’s behaviour, why is he continuing to try to maintain his position of power?


In 2018, we expect more from our elected MPs. The fact that 1 in 3 women will experience some form of sexual violence in their lifetime means that the #MeToo movement, unfortunately, has a long way to go. As constituents, volunteers, members, and voters, we stand with the women who feel unsafe in their workplace because of Erin Weir. Collectively, we want an MP who stands up for women’s rights and who views sexual harassment as a serious issue. At the very least, we want an MP who takes responsibility for his actions when he is accused of harassing women.

 

We stand behind Jagmeet Singh’s decisions to remove Weir from caucus, and to not allow him to run under the NDP banner in subsequent elections. We are also calling for Erin Weir’s resignation, effective immediately. We hope that Weir does the right thing, not only for the NDP, but for the women who feel unsafe, betrayed, and hurt by his behaviour.

 

Sincerely,

  • Tria Donaldson, former Erin Weir campaign staff (Federal Election, Fall 2015)
  • Chris Strain, former constituency assistant for Erin Weir
  • Eagleclaw Bunnie, Regina-Lewvan constituent
  • Andrew Loewen, Erin Weir campaign volunteer (Federal Election, Fall 2015), provincial NDP volunteer
  • Brad Olson, Erin Weir campaign volunteer (Federal Election, Fall 2015)
  • Chelsea Flook, Erin Weir campaign volunteer (Federal Election, Fall 2015)
  • Krystal Lewis, Erin Weir campaign volunteer (Federal Election, Fall 2015)
  • Paula Krasiun-Winsel, Erin Weir campaign volunteer (Federal Election, Fall 2015), NDP Federal Councillor representing Saskatchewan to the Federal Women’s Commission, NDP member
  • Paige Kezima, Erin Weir campaign volunteer (Federal Election, Fall 2015), former Regina-Lewvan constituent, NDP member
  • Jenn Bergen, Erin Weir campaign volunteer (Federal Election, Fall 2015), past NDP volunteer
  • Julian Wotherspoon, past NDP employee and member and volunteer
  • Genevieve Cooper, Regina-Lewvan constituent
  • Rowan Burdge, Erin Weir campaign volunteer (Federal Election, Fall 2015)
  • Naomi Beingessner, Erin Weir campaign volunteer (Federal Election, Fall 2015), NDP member, Regina-Lewvan constituent
  • Katrina Bray, Regina-Lewvan constituent
  • Jessica Wood, Erin Weir campaign volunteer (Federal Election, Fall 2015), federal and provincial NDP volunteer, NDP member, Regina-Lewvan constituent
  • Jacq Brasseur, Regina-Lewvan constituent and NDP donor
  • Graham Haines, Erin Weir campaign volunteer (Federal Election, Fall 2015), past NDP member, provincial NDP volunteer
  • Matthew Lensen, former Regina-Lewvan constituent
  • Kaitlin Stocks, former NDP candidate for nomination in Regina-Wascana (2004), former SYND executive member, former federal NDP councillor, Regina-Lewvan constituent, NDP volunteer
  • Mia Bell, Regina-Lewvan constituent
  • John Cameron, NDP member, NDP volunteer
  • Karen McIver, Regina-Lewvan constituent
  • Rhiannon Ward, Erin Weir campaign volunteer (Federal Election, Fall 2015), past NDP member and volunteer
  • Sonia Stanger, Erin Weir campaign volunteer (Federal Election, Fall 2015), NDP member, past NDP volunteer
  • Angie Evans, Regina-Lewvan constituent
  • Rick Laidlaw, Regina-Lewvan constituent
  • Malcolm French, past president Regina-Lewvan New Democrats (2015-2016)
  • Julie Gobeil, former Regina-Lewvan constituent
  • Michael Kurtz, Erin Weir campaign volunteer (Federal Election, Fall 2015), past NDP volunteer, NDP member

 



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