Saskatchewan’s NDP is addressing serious allegations against one of the party’s former candidates.
In an online blog post, a young woman involved with the party says she was sexually harassed by the man over a period of three years, starting when she was 16 years old. She said the man was 11 years older than she was.
The behaviour allegedly culminated in a violent sexual assault this August, when the staffer visited her house during a byelection campaign.
She said she didn’t tell anyone because “even if I did speak up, I expected to be ignored, shushed, it would be swept under the carpet. He was a candidate, and I was some teenage kid.”
The young woman said when she did say something, she discovered she was not the only woman being harassed. She wrote that “at least half the young women in the party shuddered and rolled our collective eyes.”
Some of them had complained to the party about the man’s behaviour, she said.
“The Saskatchewan NDP had identified the problem, and completely failed to address it. The party, and so many people within positions of power within it, knew what kind of person (he) was, they just didn’t care,” she wrote.
The man has also been on the executive of the Saskatchewan NDP.
A spokesperson with Saskatoon police told 650 CKOM the service is still consulting with the Crown on charges.
The Saskatchewan NDP interim leader, Nicole Sarauer, issued a statement Wednesday night and spoke with media Thursday morning.
“Know that the party takes any allegations of harassment or sexual assault very seriously,” she said.
“Our thoughts are with the survivor, as they always should be. Our number one here is doing everything we can to assure the survivor is supported and she is safe.”
Sarauer said she first heard of the allegations when the woman came to her with the information a few weeks ago.
The interim leader confirmed the woman made a complaint to the party’s anti-harassment committee, which was created last year, but did not provide a date for when that happened.
Sarauer said the party is now looking internally to see what happened in the situation.
“It’s fair to say that mistakes were made in terms of our screening of candidates last election,” Sarauer said.
“I’m not going to stand out here and tell you that we are going to be finger pointing, but we’re going to be looking at how this situation was dealt with and how we can better deal with that situation in the future.”
The decision on whether or not to oust the alleged rapist from the party lies with the anti-harassment committee.
The allegations are unproven.
—With files from Jennifer Graham, The Canadian Press.