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

Love North Island Society’s dance raises $1,162 for Port Hardy food bank

“It wasn’t just a dance, but a dance party.”

North Island to get new highway maintenance contractor

Ministry provides update on North Island projects and services

115 new wildfires burning across B.C. due to 19,000 lightning strikes

More fires expected to start today, says BC Wildfire Service officials

‘Daddy bonus’ common in B.C. workplaces, study finds

UBC researchers say dads don’t have to be number one in the office to get a raise

Marijuana to be legal in Canada Oct. 17: Trudeau

Prime Minister made the announcement during question period in the House of Commons

VIDEO: B.C.’s ‘unicycle cowboy’ aspires to be rancher one day

Burklan Johnson has only ridden a horse once, but this unicyclist has big plans to become a cowboy.

Rescued Oregon family simply unprepared for adventure, RCMP say

Agencies now helping the group of four get to their destination in Alaska

Large B.C. tree dies after possible poisoning

Police and District investigate after large chestnut tree’s rapid decline

Canucks release 2018-19 season schedule

Vancouver to face Calgary Flames on Wednesday, Oct. 3, for home opener

VIDEO: Luxury Home and Design Show opens with Italian flare

Event set to run Friday to Sunday at BC Place in Vancouver

Small new charge on BC Hydro bills goes toward new crisis fund

The new fund aims to help customers who find themselves in financial emergencies

UPDATED: Crown appeals B.C. polygamous leader’s acquittal in child bride case

James Oler had been charged with taking his underage daughter to the U.S. to marry her off

Fake cops ‘arrest’ woman, steal $6,000 in latest CRA scam

Vancouver police urge people not take calls from anyone saying they’re from the Canada Revenue Agency

Study shows increase in mountain bike tourism in B.C.

Numbers are up, way up, for bike-related visits to the province

Most Read