N.S. Tories abandon threat to remove MLA over NDA debate

06 Apr 2023 | Canada | 133 |
N.S. Tories abandon threat to remove MLA over NDA debate

The Nova Scotia Progressive Conservatives say they will back down on a threat to oust an Independent MLA over a debate about the use of NDAs in cases of sexual assault and harassment.

Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin said earlier this week that she was planning legal action against the province for a notice of motion calling for her removal unless she apologizes for and retracts the statements she made.

“I believe, and so does my lawyer, that it’s a very undemocratic step to have me removed,” she said Tuesday.

Last week, Smith-McCrossin tabled legislation aimed at prohibiting the misuse of NDAs, specifically for victims of sexual assault and harassment. Smith-McCrossin alleged that one of her former employees was “coerced” into signing an NDA with the Progressive Conservative caucus.

The MLA said she introduced the legislation in honour of the woman, who was a junior staffer with the PC caucus at the time. The woman, who later worked for Smith-McCrossin, died of a brain hemorrhage last June.

The alleged incident is said to have happened in 2018, when Smith-McCrossin was still a member of the PC caucus. In January of that year, then-PC leader Jamie Baillie was forced to quit after an investigation found he had acted inappropriately and breached the legislature’s policy on workplace harassment.

Smith-McCrossin tabled an unsigned document, which she said was a copy of the NDA between the woman and the PC caucus.

Community Services Minister Karla MacFarlane, the interim leader of the party at the time, denied having any knowledge of an NDA ever being used.

She said Smith-McCrossin “misled” the house, and made a notice of motion that Smith-McCrossin not be allowed to take her seat until she apologizes and retracts her statements.

Smith-McCrossin told reporters Tuesday that she only found the document after her staffer’s death and wasn’t sure of its origins.

“It is unsigned. I don’t have the answer for that, it was found after her tragic passing,” said Smith-McCrossin, who suggested that an investigation be launched by internal services.

Speaking with reporters Wednesday, Premier Tim Houston said his party, which holds a majority government, will not move forward with the motion to oust her.

He said he was satisfied that Smith-McCrossin’s comments Tuesday amounted to a retraction and said the province was just looking to “correct the record.”

“Certainly, we were concerned that something that was tabled in the legislature wasn’t exactly what it was purported to be,” he said.

MacFarlane, who made the notice of motion to remove Smith-McCrossin, said Wednesday that she stood by the premier.

“I think the premier spoke earlier about the fact that the member from Cumberland North indicated that she was not aware of what she actually tabled,” she said.

“That’s all I was looking for, was the truth, but we’re not going to keep spending our time and energy on this any further.”

In a statement Thursday, Smith-McCrossin said:

“Until the resolution threatening to remove me is taken off the order paper, I will be waiting each day for them to call it and remove me from my seat. I believe it is an intimidation tactic. There is a pattern of this and it needs to stop.”

She thanked members of the Liberal and NDP caucuses for their support.

Her office said she still intends to pursue legal action “at this point.”

by Global News