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

VIDEO: This is what buying legal pot in B.C. looks like

Take a look inside B.C.’s first and only legal pot shop located in Kamloops

VIDEO: Fire crew mopping up workshop fire near Golden Ears Bridge

Structure fire at 208 and 102B sending plumes of black smoke into air above Walnut Grove

Two Giants picked to play against Russia

Two of Langley’s junior hockey players will be part of the six-game Canada Russia Series next month.

VIDEO: Tributes for the man known as the “Mormon Giant”

Langley champion professional wrestler passes away

Two Langley mayoral campaigns endorsed by anti-SOGI groups

Jack Froese unsure why he’s been singled out; SOGI not a municipal issue, says Peter Fassbender

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.

Jagmeet Singh says marijuana pardons are not enough

Trudeau government will streamline pardon process for Canadians convicted of simple possession of marijuana in the past

BC Ferries begins taking debit in two-month pilot project

Company is giving customers option to use Interac on two-month trial on select vessels

Caregivers banned from smoking, growing cannabis around children-in-care: MCFD

Ministry has limited cannabis use for caregivers, stating it may “pose a risk to children and youth.”

Cheaper strains sell out within minutes on online BC Cannabis Store

Province says new strains will become available in the coming months

Only 40% of B.C. car dealerships have electric cars available: report

Researchers found buyers frustrated at the lack of options

VIDEO: Millionaire Lottery returns to give back and win big

Since 1996, Millionaire Lottery has raised $52 million for the VGH+UBC Hospital Foundation

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

Most Read