Shocking news about Rachel Notley’s NDP on the eve of the Alberta election campaign — we believe we have identified the two government MLAs who were investigated and disciplined by Notley for sexual misconduct — a secret she had been keeping from the public for months.
Notley’s caucus has been rocked by accusations of misconduct, including bullying.
The NDP’s internal culture is so toxic that one of their female MLAs, Robyn Luff, felt the need to physically leave the NDP caucus and sit as an independent, claiming she had been bullied, and that Notley and her senior officials did not take her complaints seriously. It was quite a blow to the reputation of the NDP, which prides itself in being feminist, and a safe place for women.
Other complaints emerged, too, including allegations of sexual misconduct.
Notley commissioned an investigation into those cases, and found that two of her MLAs needed intervention — but she refused to publicly give any details, or even name the MLAs she had disciplined.
So that was that — Notley admits there was a problem with sexual misconduct; but decided to keep it a secret, including the names of those who did it.
And the mainstream media just accepted that. It was a stunning message — that powerful government MLAs will be protected, even if they engage in misconduct. And that any women should think twice before complaining about powerful friends of Notley.
But if Notley’s office described the allegations as serious, and concluded that there was misconduct — is it right that the public be kept in the dark about who these MLAs are?
Don’t voters deserve to know the facts before the election next month? And then voters can decide if the sexual misconduct was disqualifying — and if Notley’s handling of it was, too.
Notley might not think it’s important. But voters might.
Notley’s excuse for keeping these MLA names secret is that she wants to “protect” the complainants.
But affidavits filed in public court documents suggest that there may be other reasons for Notley to have kept it a secret — our investigation suggests the two MLAs involved are key Notley lieutenants.
According to documents filed at the Edmonton Court of Queen’s bench, it seems that the two NDP MLAs who engaged in sexual misconduct are Rachel Notley's second in command, Deron Bilous, the Minister for Economic Development and Trade and Heather Sweet, Notley’s deputy chair of committees and chair of the NDP caucus.
The misconduct revealed in these documents does not seem to involve sexual harassment, but rather an affair between these two senior Notley deputies, which was cited by Bilous’s wife in her bitter divorce proceedings.
Bilous’ wife also claims that, at least on one occasion, a senior NDP staffer, named Heather Mack — the chief of staff to Sandra Jansen — actually went to court, to attend the divorce proceedings, in the middle of her work day. Why? Was she assisting Bilous? Was she there to monitor what was said about him — for damage control? Was she there to intimidate Bilous’s wife? We don’t know.
This story is developing. We’ve asked the parties involved to tell us any facts or points of view they think we’re missing here. If they reply, we’ll let you know in an update.