Stephen Harper takes to Twitter to comment on allegations against former MP Dykstra
Former Prime Minister Stephen Harper has taken to Twitter to discuss the handling of allegations against former MP and former Ontario PC President Rick Dykstra.
In a Tweet posted Friday evening, Harper says the allegations against Dykstra were brought to his attention during the 2015 election campaign, but as he understood, the matter was investigated by police and closed in 2014. At that time, he says, he couldn't justify removing him as a candidate.
When new information about Dykstra came to light - Maclean's magazine reporting he was accused of sexual assault in 2014 - Harper said it proved that the original investigation may have not been complete.
Harper says he has never hesitated to remove candidates or caucus members, provided there were facts or allegation to trigger an investigation.
Dykstra resigned as president of the Ontario PCs last Sunday night, just hours before the Maclean's report was made public.
Read Harper's entire statement below:
"I wish to address the issue of the handling of allegations against former MP Rick Dykstra.
When allegations were brought to my attention during 2015 election campaign, I understood that the matter 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.
Recently, much more information has come to light, including information to the effect that the original investigation may not have been complete. In my view, it is essential that criminal allegations, including this one, be fully investigated and prosecuted if warranted.
I have never hesitated to remove candidates or caucus members. My standard has been that either there are facts that justify such removal or allegations that trigger investigation. Sexual assault is a heinous crime and intolerable in any environment. Any allegation of this nature must be taken seriously, forwarded to the police, investigated and prosecuted.
There are at present discussions in organizations 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 to ensure fairness for all involved. This is a healthy conversation and I hope that it brings about positive change for everyone."