Federal minister Kent Hehr resigns amid sexual harassment allegations

Jan 25 2018, 10:21 pm

Canadian Minister for Sport & Persons with Disabilities Kent Hehr has resigned, after being accused of sexual harassment on Twitter as part of the #MeToo movement.

In a Twitter post on Wednesday, public servant Kristin Raworth said Hehr made “verbally sexually suggestive comments” to female staff in the Alberta legislature.

Raworth said Hehr called her “yummy” and women were afraid to ride in the elevator with him. She later said six other women had told her they had similar experiences.

In a statement, Hehr said an investigation into the allegations had begun and he welcomed and respected the process.

“While this is ongoing, I have resigned from Cabinet pending the outcome of the investigation,” said Hehr.

“I do not want to be a distraction to all the good work being done by our government.”

‘Everyone deserves to have their voice heard’

Hehr said he thought the #MeToo conversation, in which many women have been sharing their experience of sexual harassment and sexual assault, is important.

“I encourage all women who have felt uncomfortable or who have experienced harassment of any kind to continue to come forward. It is never okay,” he said.

Hehr said he had always endeavoured to conduct himself “with respect towards others” and he understood the most important thing is “how each individual feels.”

“Harassment is never acceptable and everyone deserves to have their voice heard,” he said.

Hehr added that he will be staying on as MP for Calgary Centre.

‘We believe that it is important to support women’

In a statement, Justin Trudeau said harassment of any kind is unacceptable and Canadians have a right to live and work in environments free from harassment.

“As a government we take any allegations of misconduct extremely seriously, and we believe that it is important to support women who come forward with allegations and that is exactly what our government will do,” said Trudeau.

Trudeau said one of the first things he did when he formed government was to put in place rigorous processes to address allegations.

“This is the same approach that was taken when I became leader of the Liberal Party,” he said.

“Having a process that can address these allegations while at the same time offering support and a safe space for those who come forward is important and something Canadians expect.”

In Hehr’s absence, Kirsty Duncan MP will serve as Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, in addition to being Minister of Science.

‘This can’t be the end of the conversation’

In a statement, Raworth said her tweets reflected the experiences of many people who experience sexual harassment in political work.

“Mr. Hehr resigned today, but this can’t be the end of the conversation. Because this isn’t about him. Or me,” she said.

“We need to continue to support survivors and we need to continue to make politics a place for women.”

Read her full statement here:

Where to get help

If you’ve been affected by this story, WAVAW’s 24 Hour Crisis Line offers immediate emotional and non-judgmental support seven days a week, 365 days a year.

Call 604-255-6344 or toll free 1-877-392-7583. All services are completely free and confidential.

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