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Investigation finds Calgary MP Darshan Kang violated harassment rules

An investigation into harassment complaints made against Calgary MP Darshan Kang by one of his staff concluded he violated House of Commons rules.

The investigation was called last summer by Pierre Parent, chief human resources officer of the House of Commons, after a complaint made by Rhea Bassi.

Bassi started working for Kang in his Calgary Skyview riding office in 2015, and previously worked for him from 2011 to 2015 while he was an Alberta Liberal MLA.

Bassi levelled several allegations, which included that Kang:

  • Repeatedly hugged her closely.
  • Would grab her hands.
  • Patted her on parts of her body.
  • Would threaten to fire her if she didn’t take his non-work-related phone calls after hours.
  • Repeatedly kissed her against her will.
  • Tricked her into going to his apartment while she was on a business trip to Ottawa.
  • Caressed her hands and feet, and attempted to remove her jacket despite her protests.
  • Repeatedly tried to get into her hotel over her objections while on that business trip.
  • Offered her money to keep quiet when she threatened to complain about his behaviour.

CBC News has obtained a copy of the investigator’s final report.

Some allegations unsubstantiated

The investigation found some of the allegations could not be substantiated due to a lack of evidence in certain cases.

For example, while there was an offer by Kang to pay Bassi to prevent her from reporting the harassment, it was not clear who initiated that offer.

However, the investigator found it was improper for Kang to have physically touched Bassi and there was evidence that inappropriate contact took place.

The investigator also found it was improper for Kang to try to enter Bassi’s Ottawa hotel room in June 2017 over her objections, and that Kang should have known his behaviour was offensive and not welcomed by Bassi.

The report stated Kang “was unaware that any of his behaviour or conduct caused discomfort to Ms. Bassi.”

It concluded that “some of Mr. Kang’s proven behaviour and conduct toward Ms. Bassi, as concluded in this Final Investigation Report, represented harassment” and for those reasons, “Ms. Bassi’s complaint of harassment is therefore concluded to be partially substantiated.”

Bassi refused to comment on the investigation’s conclusions.

Kang left caucus, wanted to clear name

CBC News contacted Kang’s office but he did not respond.

Kang resigned from the Liberal caucus last August after the harassment allegations become public. 

He said at the time that he wanted to focus his efforts on clearing his name and that he didn’t want to distract from the government’s agenda.

Kang has since kept a low profile. After a medical leave, he resumed his duties in the House of Commons as an Independent MP.

‘Not going to exonerate him’

Political scientist Duane Bratt said the result of the investigation likely won’t play well with voters in Kang’s riding.

“This is not going to exonerate him. If he had self-respect, he would step down. Immediately,” said Bratt.

He said he expected some voters in Kang’s northeast Calgary riding were likely willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and see how the investigation went.

But with the result, Bratt said he didn’t know how his constituents would still be able to support him after the report. 

Other ethical questions raised

The investigation also revealed another factor that Bratt said raised ethical concerns for Kang.

He said Bassi is the daughter of Kang’s longtime friend.

“I think it raises a lot of very serious questions about the operation of constituency offices. How those people are selected. The behaviour within them. Where can these people turn [when there are problems]?” said Bratt.

The parties involved in the investigation can file an appeal of its findings.

There’s no word on what potential discipline Kang could be facing. 

CBC News contacted Liberal Party whip Pablo Rodriguez for comment on the investigation and to ask about any prospects Kang might have have for rejoining the Liberal caucus.

He did not respond. 

CBC | Politics News