Ex-Manitoba cabinet minister apologizes after staff allege he tickled them

Stan Struthers says he recently learned behaviour made former colleagues, staff feel disrespected

Then-Manitoba finance minister Stan Struthers pauses during a news conference at the provincial legislature in Winnipeg in 2013. (John Woods/The Canadian Press)

A former Manitoba cabinet minister is apologizing after women came forward alleging he touched and tickled them and made inappropriate remarks while he was in government.

Stan Struthers, who was in cabinet for more than a decade while the New Democrats were in power, says he recently learned his behaviour made former colleagues and staff feel disrespected.

“I am sorry,” he said in a statement Thursday. “I apologize for any interactions I have had that have been inappropriate and that have caused any person to feel disrespected or uncomfortable.

“My intention was never to treat women as anything other than equal and respected.”

READ MORE: Two provincial leaders resign amid sexual misconduct claims

Joelle Saltel-Allard said he used to touch her when she worked for Struthers as his press secretary between 2009 and 2011.

“I would be working with him in his office and he would come and touch me or tickle me, often in front of other people,” she told The Canadian Press.

Saltel-Allard said that during a car ride to a news conference, Struthers put his hand on her knee and talked about sex acts he would enjoy. That prompted her to lodge a complaint with her boss who took it up the chain of command.

“It was relayed back to me that I basically had to shut up and suck it up,” she said. “They weren’t going to do anything. There was an election coming up and nobody was going to take any action in regards to my complaint.”

Saltel-Allard said she became stressed and anxious, and eventually took a three-month mental-health leave. She decided not to return to the legislature.

“I really felt like I was insignificant and my complaints weren’t respected or even acknowledged. You really don’t feel like working in that type of environment,” she said.

“It becomes very toxic — just the fact that nobody would even acknowledge what I had to say or what I was going through. It was a struggle and it eventually led me to leave.”

The allegations were first reported by the CBC.

Karen Peters, a community activist, told the CBC that Struthers tickled her countless times when he was conservation minister and serving with her on a sustainable development roundtable. She said the touching also happened in front of other people, including other members of the legislatures.

Peters said she didn’t complain to the party and just tried to avoid Struthers.

“He should have been disciplined. He should not have been a cabinet minister,” she told the CBC. “He should have been probably kicked out of the party.”

Struthers was one of five ministers who resigned from cabinet in November 2014 to protest the leadership of then-premier Greg Selinger. Struthers announced in May 2015 he would not run in the April 2016 election for the “good of our family” and his Dauphin constituency.

He was first elected in 1995 and held various cabinet portfolios that included conservation, agriculture, finance and municipal government.

“I have been fortunate to work with many strong, intelligent and talented women and have always valued these relationships. I believe it’s imperative that workplaces be safe and respectful sites for all,” he said in his statement.

“My commitment is to learn from this and do better.”

Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

WATCH: Canadian Finals Rodeo only two weeks away

Mayor calls CFR an opportunity to showcase Red Deer

Puff, puff, pass: Cannabis is officially legal across Canada

Alberta readies itself for cannabis sales with 17 stores (for now) and a new provincial website

Sylvan Lake Pirates still searching for first win

The Pirates fell 13-5 to the Morinville Kings on Oct. 14

Sylvan Lake Lions pounce on Raiders

The Lions beat Lindsay Thurber 51-0 at the afternoon game on Oct. 13

Policies for “fitness to work” needed in new cannabis-friendly world

Instead of a drug and alcohol policy, businesses should consider a fit for work policy

Mellow opening to B.C.’s only legal pot shop

About five people lined up early for the opening of the BC Cannabis Store in Kamloops.

Test case challenges a politician’s right to block people from Twitter account

3 people say Watson infringed their constitutional right to freedom of expression by blocking them

After 50 years, ‘Sesame Street’ Big Bird puppeteer retiring

The puppeteer who has played Big Bird on “Sesame Street” is retiring after nearly 50 years on the show.

Britain, EU decide to take some time in getting Brexit right

Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said “we need much time, much more time and we continue to work in the next weeks.”

Parole denied for convicted killer-rapist Paul Bernardo after 25 years in prison

Paul Bernardo plead for release on Wednesday by arguing he has done what he could to improve himself during his 25 years in prison.

B.C. Lions look to cement CFL playoff spot with victory over Eskimos

B.C. can cement a post-season berth in the wild West Division on Friday night with a home win over the Edmonton Eskimos

Canada ban on asbestos takes effect but mining residues are exempt

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna plans to announce the new regulations implementing the ban on Thursday in Ottawa

Harry and Meghan bring rain to drought-stricken Outback town

Prince Harry and his wife Meghan are on day two of their 16-day tour of Australia and the South Pacific.

Most Read