Liberal MNA withdraws from caucus amid sexual misconduct allegations
Jocelyne Richer, The Canadian Press
Published Tuesday, April 17, 2018 10:29AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, April 17, 2018 7:57PM EDT
A Liberal member of the Quebec legislature was forced out of caucus Tuesday as word emerged he was being investigated for alleged sexual misconduct and harassment.
According to a Cogeco Nouvelles report, Yves St-Denis is accused of sending a sexually explicit photo in 2014 to a Liberal staff member who contacted the party whip last December.
The incident allegedly occurred just before the provincial election.
St-Denis, who has represented the riding of Argenteuil north of Montreal since 2014, told Cogeco the image of a woman performing oral sex on a man was meant as a joke and was snapped from a pornographic film he'd been watching on TV.
"I'm no different from other people," St-Denis, 54, said in justifying his actions, adding he was the victim of a vendetta.
The complainant, whose name was not released, waited until December 2017 to contact government whip Nicole Menard about the details.
Menard strongly urged the staffer to file a complaint at the legislature, which was done.
Caucus president Filomena Rotiroti said St-Denis withdrew from caucus following the report and will sit as an Independent.
But St-Denis was reportedly told he would be dumped at a caucus meeting if he didn't leave of his own accord.
In Montreal, Premier Philippe Couillard confirmed a Cogeco report that St-Denis is the subject of a second investigation by the party following allegations by other employees of psychological harassment as well as degrading and sexually charged remarks.
He called the situation "disappointing" and said the investigative process put in place by the party was triggered as soon as the allegations came to light.
Opposition members said St-Denis showed an incredible lack of judgment and that his behaviour clearly constituted sexual harassment.
St-Denis is the third member of the Liberal caucus to be forced out due to allegations of sexual misconduct, following Gerry Sklavounos in 2016 and Pierre Paradis in 2017.
Those two men are still sitting as Independent members of the legislature and have not been charged
St-Denis has not yet had his nomination meeting ahead of the Oct. 1 election, and Couillard said the current situation "makes his candidacy much more difficult."