Police investigated threats to complainants
It appears there will be no resolution to the more than a dozen grievances and three Human Rights complaints launched against two Hamilton NDP MPPs until after the upcoming provincial election. The latest NDP constituency staffer to file a Human Rights complaint was Todd White, who worked in the office of MPP Paul Miller. In his statement White says he was discriminated against for taking paternity leave and then asking to be given part-time employment upon his return. White released a voicemail message on which Miller said the workers’ union COPE, “created more problems than it solved.” The recording received widespread play in Toronto as well as Hamilton and was circulated in social media. In another recording secretly taped by a co-worker, Miller appeared to view the taking of paternity leave as an act of weakness or disloyalty : “I’m done with him (White)” Miller said, “You don’t not talk to me for 10 months [parental leave] after all I did for that guy. Treat me like that. Disrespectful. Doesn’t happen. No, he’s done, he’s done with me. Unless he comes crawling. ” Miller also appeared to worry that White, who in 2011 was a candidate along with Miller for the Hamilton East-Stoney Creek NDP nomination could be potential threat; “I haven’t heard anything about Todd playing games behind my back yet. I haven’t heard any sabotage yet, but I’m sure there is something. He wants my job. He’d go down in flames, because I’d get him.”
Meanwhile Hamilton Mountain MPP Monique Taylor has yet to respond directly to enquiries from the Bay Observer about the two Human Rights Complaints filed against her by two former staffers—specifically that she pressured a staffer Sandra Troulinos to file a false sexual harassment complaint against co-worker Alissa Watt. She told reporters in Toronto that one of the former employees had refused an invitation to take part in an investigation, but Wade Poziomka, the woman’s Human Rights lawyer called the offer “misleading.” “While an investigation was in fact offered,” he wrote the Bay Observer, “ both Ms. Troulinos and Ms. Watt understood the offer to be an investigation into the inappropriate sexual harassment allegations leveled against Ms. Watt. Given that Ms. Troulinos never felt sexually harassed and Ms. Watt never engaged in sexually harassing behaviour, this offer was not accepted. “Only recently have my clients become aware of a new offer to have their concerns with Ms. Taylor investigated and they have not discounted the possibility of a fair, neutral and impartial investigation of the concerns they have raised.” With an election looming there is no incentive for the MPP’s to expedite the investigations.
After last month’s publication of the harassment allegations against Taylor, messages threatening bodily harm to Sandra Troulinos appeared on social media. Troulinos took the messages to Hamilton Police who originally dismissed her complaint, but later on, discovering that one of the females who took part in the message thread had been involved in a decades-old brutal murder as a juvenile offender; took the matter seriously and cautioned the poster.
Campaigning on public funds alleged
Emerging from interviews with persons familiar with the workings of Hamilton NDP constituency offices is a pattern of flagrant violation of provincial rules involving use of publicly-paid employees to engage in campaigning activity. The Bay Observer learned that some constituency employees in Monique Taylor’s office were told to “start stockpiling lieu days” (time off in lieu of overtime) and to be prepared to burn up their regular vacations during election campaigns. Employees felt they were being asked to fabricate lieu days in order to have sufficient banked time to get through the election period. Employees said they were also expected to campaign, not only on behalf of their MPP, but for candidates in other ridings– even other cities– that the MPP supported. In her Human Rights complaint Alissa Watt described being ordered by Taylor to go to Sault Ste Marie on a day’s notice to campaign for an NDP candidate in a by-election there. The demands to engage in partisan campaigning even extended to other levels of government. An employee was seconded to work on Scott Duvall’s federal campaign. Taylor constituency workers were even asked to take part in the 2016 municipal by-election in Hamilton’s Ward 7 on behalf of an NDP candidate. Under provincial rules, employees working on campaigns for their MPP were supposed to take a leave of absence, hence the need to accumulate lieu days and vacation time, but in reality employees tended to continue mixing campaign work and constituency work during election time.
Toxic office environment
In fact, employees told the Bay Observer that, whether there was an election on or not, much of their work was really of a campaign nature—accompanying a member to community events to photograph the member for distribution later on social or other media, door-to-door canvassing between elections to keep the MPPs name in front of the public, or maintaining the MPP’s personal social media account.
In the case of Monique Taylor, former employees described a MPP who was “high maintenance,” demanding, and harsh when employees did not meet her expectations. Sick days and doctors’ appointments were discouraged with remarks or with eye rolling and facial expressions. The MPP sometimes appeared poorly prepared for meetings, once asking a staffer to print off a page from Wikipedia explaining how the Ontario Legislature works so she could address a high school civics class. On another occasion she asked workers to explain what the opioid crisis was. One employee told the Bay Observer, “she belittled me, used to make me feel bad because I didn’t drive a North American car. I wasn’t very political until I went with her. The NDP said they were the party for the worker but they did nothing for me.”
The controversy sparked some debate at a meeting of the Hamilton and District Labour Council last month, when Monique Taylor and fellow NDP candidate Sandy Shaw made pre-election remarks to the gathering. After the two candidates spoke, Barry Conway, representing the City outside workers for CUPE, rose and alluded to the Human Rights complaints against Taylor and Paul Miller, sparking an outburst by a Miller supporter. Later Conway told the Bay Observer, “I think our duty as a house of labour is to support labour, not to give a free pass to every politician carrying the NDP banner.”