Former PM Harper says he was aware of allegations against Tory MP Dykstra

OTTAWA — Former prime minister Stephen Harper and one of his senior aides are now publicly admitting they were aware a Conservative MP had been accused of sexual assault but let him remain on the ballot in the 2015 election.

In a statement late Friday night, Harper said his understanding of the matter involving Rick Dykstra was that the case had been investigated by the police and closed a year prior.

“Given this understanding of the situation, I did not believe that I could justify removing him as a candidate,” Harper said in a statement posted on Twitter late Friday after days of questions about what he and other party officials knew and when.

The allegations concern a 2014 incident involving Dykstra, who was then a Conservative member of Parliament, and a staff member on Parliament Hill. They were reported in Maclean’s magazine earlier this week.

They have not been tested in court nor independently confirmed by The Canadian Press and Dykstra has denied them, though he stepped down as president of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party after they were made public.

Harper’s former chief of staff, Ray Novak, said what the campaign knew in 2015 was that police had investigated a complaint against Dykstra and the investigation was closed.

The party’s lawyer looked into the issue, but “unfortunately the facts available at the time were few,” Novak said in a statement.

Still, that Dykstra was able to remain on the ballot when other candidates were let go for seemingly lesser infractions — one, for example, for being caught on video years prior urinating into a cup — caused much consternation in the party’s rank-and-file this week.

Several MPs called for the party to clear up what had happened after differing accounts from campaign staff and executives emerged in the media, largely on an anonymous basis.

Novak said the matter wasn’t taken lightly by anyone involved, and hinged on whether a closed investigation without charges was sufficient grounds for firing.

“Certainly, with the benefit of hindsight and additional information, Rick Dykstra should have been fired as a candidate,” he said.

“But campaigns don’t get do-overs. To this day, I have hoped, particularly in light of recent media reports, that the alleged victim presses charges so this matter can be fully investigated and prosecuted by the police and the courts.”

Concern over how the matter was handled had prompted current leader Andrew Scheer to order an independent third-party investigation.

The details of that have not been announced but Scheer has pledged to make the findings public and said under his leadership, candidates facing such accusations would never be allowed to run.

In his statement, Harper noted that there are discussions all over the world about how to protect sexual assault victims and encourage them to come forward.

“At the same time, we must have some basic standards of process to try and ensure fairness for all involved,” Harper said.

“This is a healthy conversation and I hope it brings about positive change for everyone.”

Just Posted

Canyon Ski Resort season wraps up Sunday

Central Alberta skiers and snowboarders only have a couple more days to… Continue reading

Future space crunch is feared, as no new schools for Red Deer are in the budget

Only local modernization will be at Father Lacombe Catholic School in Lacombe

A million dollars for Red Deer hospital is not nearly enough, says Mayor Veer

Mayor is concerned Red Deer hospital is still not on province’s five-year capital list

No drug treatment centre, or additional shelter beds for Red Deer

But Red Deer will get more affordable housing and sustained capital funding

Hit and run adjourned to April

Crash into Papa Baldy’s Pizza

WATCH: Hundreds come to Red Deer Rebels Fan Fest

The Red Deer Rebels met with legions of their of fans just… Continue reading

Supreme Court rules former Stephen Harper aide guilty of influence peddling

OTTAWA — Canada’s highest court has upheld an influence peddling conviction against… Continue reading

2 killed, dozen hurt in French supermarket hostage-taking

PARIS — An armed man took hostages in a supermarket in southern… Continue reading

READER PHOTO: Red Deer students celebrate Canadian courage at Juno Beach

Teenagers from Red Deer’s Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School are learning about… Continue reading

UN report: Loss of plants, animals making a lonelier planet

WASHINGTON — New United Nations scientific reports diagnose that Earth is getting… Continue reading

Excavator frees dolphins trapped by pack ice in Newfoundland harbour

HEARTS DELIGHT, N.L. — A pod of dolphins trapped by pack ice… Continue reading

Structure fire destroys home in Mirror

A house in Mirror is completely damaged due to an overnight structure… Continue reading

Trudeau warns senators not to thwart will of Canadians on marijuana bill

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is reminding senators that his government… Continue reading

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month