WINNIPEG — A Manitoba government backbencher who reportedly made inappropriate comments to female staff may be removed from the board of the province's energy utility and could have his future decided by caucus next week.
Colleen Mayer, minister for Crown services, said she and her Progressive Conservative cabinet colleagues are to meet soon to decide whether Cliff Graydon should remain as the government representative on the board of Manitoba Hydro.
"Internal discussions are happening. It is a cabinet decision and it will be discussed as soon as we are able to convene together," Mayer said Tuesday.
Justice Minister Cliff Cullen said the governing Tory caucus is to meet next week to discuss Graydon, although Cullen refused to say whether the options include expelling Graydon and making him sit as an Independent in the legislature.
"We will be meeting as a caucus next week to review the facts and have a caucus discussion," Cullen said.
The Winnipeg Free Press and the CBC, quoting unnamed sources, have reported that Graydon told a caucus worker she should sit on his lap during a luncheon where there was a shortage of chairs.
The newspaper also said Graydon on another occasion was told by a female staffer he had food on his face and he invited her to lick it off.
Tory caucus chair Wayne Ewasko, without mentioning Graydon by name, has said an inappropriate comment was made at the legislature and was dealt with immediately. The matter was resolved to the satisfaction of the target of the comment, who has asked that the matter remain confidential, Ewasko added.
Graydon, first elected in 2007 and now in his early 70s, told The Canadian Press last weekend he was involved in a matter that was dealt with and he sees no reason to resign. He did not rule out running again for re-election in 2020.
Graydon did not respond to an interview request this week regarding the alleged face-licking comment. The legislature is on a break with many politicians out of town and working in their constituencies.
It's not the first controversy involving Graydon.
The MLA, who represents the Emerson, Man. area where asylum-seekers have been walking across the border from the United States, last winter called immigrants a "drain on society" and retweeted other people's posts that called Prime Minister Justin Trudeau a traitor, a scumbag and a disgrace.
Graydon apologized, deleted the tweets and agreed to step back from social media and undergo sensitivity training.
Mayer refused to say Tuesday whether she had personally witnessed or heard inappropriate comments from Graydon since she was elected in 2016. She also declined to say how she feels about the controversy.
"I will discuss this situation that has come to light in the media ... internally," Mayer said.
"Any woman who has concerns should be taken very seriously. As an elected official, I take those seriously ... and will be dealing with my cabinet colleagues at that time."
Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press