By Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG – A former Manitoba cabinet minister who was the subject of a sexual harassment complaint will likely learn next week whether he will be fully reinstated into the Opposition NDP caucus.
The NDP caucus will meet next Tuesday to discuss the fate of Mohinder Saran, who was suspended from attending caucus meetings in November following a formal complaint that he had harassed someone in the workplace.
The NDP and Saran have not disclosed any details, but a party source told The Canadian Press Saran was accused of making inappropriate comments and overtures to a subordinate.
The NDP also revealed last month that Saran had faced another harassment accusation several years ago that was resolved informally.
Saran’s lawyer, Bill Gange, recently said Saran has been taking sensitivity training, has complied with the investigation by the legislature’s human resources branch, and fully expects to be reinstated.
Gange has also said Saran was not admitting to any wrongdoing and there was a “difference of interpretation” about what happened.
The controversy has delivered a blow to a NDP caucus that was already reeling from a devastating election loss last April. The election saw an end to 17 years of NDP rule and the party was reduced to 14 of 57 legislature seats.
The handling of the harassment allegations has also stirred up controversy in caucus, according to a second NDP source who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly. Interim leader Flor Marcelino has said she knew about the accusation for a few weeks before she informed all other caucus members.
“Flor knew about it for weeks … and members of caucus were very concerned that it had to be taken seriously,” the source said Monday.
“There was some concern about how and when people (in caucus) were finding out.”
Saran was first elected in 2007 and, in 2015, played a key role in helping then-premier Greg Selinger survive an internal coup launched by five cabinet ministers.
Saran helped deliver 117 delegates to Selinger’s leadership campaign from his constituency in The Maples in north Winnipeg. At the ensuing leadership convention, Selinger hung on to his job by 33 votes and, weeks later, elevated Saran to cabinet in the housing and community development portfolio.
Selinger stepped down following the April election loss, and the party appointed Marcelino as interim leader until a leadership convention slated for September.
Saran has not responded to interview requests. His lawyer said he would not be making any comments.