MNA Sklavounos regrets actions, will return to work next week
Published Thursday, February 9, 2017 7:55AM EST
Last Updated Thursday, February 9, 2017 7:09PM EST
In his first public appearance since being cleared in a sexual assault investigation, MNA Gerry Sklavounos he was often an extrovert and a clown, but never realized that his actions and statements made people uncomfortable.
Sklavounos was removed from the Liberal caucus after a woman came forward last fall to accuse him of sexual assault and has been on sick leave since October.
With his wife standing by his side, Sklavounos said he regretted putting people through the experience and would strive to be better in the future.
"The intense media coverage and scrutiny we were under, the suspicious looks I was given, as well as the hurtful and unfounded remarks in traditional media and social media had a considerable effect on my wife, my family, and myself," said Sklavounos.
Last week the Crown prosecutor's office determined that Sklavounos had not committed any crime.
The MNA said that over the past few months he has pondered his actions and the path he wants to take in life.
He said that some of his acts may have been offensive but that he never intented to insult or harm anyone.
"Those who know me well know that I am an extroverted, talkative, and passionate individual," said Sklavounos.
Sklavounos did not explain his relationship with Alice Paquet, the woman who accused him of sexual assault.
Even when asked directly he did not discuss Paquet.
"This was a very difficult time for my family and for myself and that I decided to not litigate this matter, to not go out and defend myself in the media, to allow the Crown and the police to do their work," he said in response.
"This was a very difficult time for my family and for myself and that I decided to not litigate this matter, to not go out and defend myself in the media, to allow the Crown and the police to do their work," he said.
Paquet issued a statement Thursday on her Facebook page saying she wants to speak publicly about Sklavounos, but not right away.
She also opposes his return to the National Assembly.
The MNA said he now realizes that the attention he gave people was likely unwanted.
"Some people consider the workplace to be a place where you go to work. That's what my introspection led me to understand," said Sklavounos.
"If, in these attempts to socialize, or to create friendly links, or to lighten the mood in a clumsy matter, I ever upset or made someone uncomfortable, I want people to know that I now find that unacceptable and inappropriate and I will work to exercise more prudence in the future."
He added that he will work to be a better representative for his consituents, and a better role model for his children and nieces.
"I now understand that there are people who don't like this type of attention, and this introspection, this experience, has taught me that," said Sklavounos.
Since Sklavounos was determined not to have committed a crime, the Liberal party has debated whether or not to readmit the MNA to the party.
Speaking after Sklavounos' news conference, Premier Philippe Couillard said the Liberal party has yet to make a decision about his readmittance.
Opposition MNAs said they were disappointed by Sklavounos' apology.
They said instead of admitting he did something wrong, Sklavounos blamed others for misinterpreting his actions.
Parti Quebecois Whip Carole Poirier said Sklavounos should recognize that he is at fault.
"It was a real, real disappointment to hear this morning that Mr. Sklavounos doesn't recognize that there is a problem. That's the problem. He didn't recognise that. He just said that 'I'm a little bit too social, too extroverted.' So the problem is not him, the problem is the other," said Porier.
"I think that he should do his introspection again."
PQ leader Jean-Francois Lisée said in his opinion, there is nothing Sklavounos can do to justify returning to the Liberal party.
leader Jean-Francois Lisée said in his opinion, there is nothing Sklavounos can do to justify returning to the Liberal party.
"The harm is done," said Lisée, pointing out that while that may not be fair, "politics is not fair."
Sklavounos will return to the National Assembly next week.