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

Fire permit season begins March 1st

Permit requests can be submitted online through the ‘myLacombeCounty’ app and in person

Generals overcome hot goalie to lead series 2-0

Nolan Huysmans scores OT winner in Game 2

Property owners asked to review their 2018 assessments

More information is available online at www.lacombe.ca/living/taxes-assessment

Central Alberta artist explores the cycles of Alberta through sculpture

Robin Lambert’s commentary on the province’s fragility is on at the MAG until March 18th

WATCH: Red Deer celebrates one year out from 2019 Canada Games

Community gathers at Great Chief Park to commemorate Games milestone

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Trudeau reiterates denial of Sikh separatists in cabinet, condemns extremism

“We will always stand against violent extremism, but we understand that diversity of views is one of the great strengths of Canada.”

Canada wins gold in men’s ski cross

Leman earns redemption with ski cross gold; Homan out early

Three-car pile-up on Northstar Drive and 58th Street

No injuries reported at Thursday afternoon incident

Trump says more must be done to protect children

In a tweet Tuesday night, Trump indicated he wants to strengthen the background check system, but offered no specifics.

Evangelist Billy Graham has died at 99

Graham died Wednesday morning at his home in Montreat, North Carolina.

Canadians capture bronze in women’s bobsled event

Canadians Humphries, George take bronze in women’s bobsled event at Olympics

Widow of avalanche victim sues Golden lodge operator

A woman from Alberta is suing guides, their mountain guide association and the lodge operator for negligence

Most Read