Rhino's Ramblings: #MeToo Hits Moose Jaw, Twice
One of the biggest stories or scandals ever to break in the Friendly City could be one that has occurred, but hasn't been broken yet. It's happened (happening) at the Downtown Facility (Mosaic Place) and Field House (DFFH). It's a story which, as it unravels, has people wanting to know what happened and it all comes down to two words and a hashtag: #MeToo.
So what is this #MeToo stuff and how does it affect Moose Jaw and more directly, the DFFH? Well #MeToo is a movement that began in the United States by women who were sexually harassed, manipulated and assaulted by men who wielded power over them. Often, when these women spoke out and attempted to shed light on their stories and make them public they were not believed or taken seriously. It started with famous actresses coming forward about legendary Hollywood movie producer Harvey Weinstein, who saw his career disappear as more and more evidence amassed that he had coerced and even forced some very well known women into engaging in sex acts with him. It was the literal use of the "casting couch"; nothing symbolic about it at all.
This sparked a movement in which large amounts of women came forward with their own similar stories involving inappropriate sexual advancements, harassment and even rape.
Well now, it seems, this movement has come to the DFFH and Moose Jaw. What if I were to tell you that there are some very serious allegations being passed around at the DFFH which were investigated by former General Manager Graham Edge, involving a male staff member who, allegedly, sexually harassed not one, not two, but eight female employees?
I want to state up front that what is being spoken of here are all allegations and none of them have yet been presented to a court of law. But if this ever comes out, it will be a massive scandal. One person even alleging, of all things, cover up, dismissal and normalization; as if "the show must go on".
Could such a thing happen in Moose Jaw? Is it possible that there was an investigation conducted at the DFFH and in the end nothing was done about it?
I have been busy doing an investigative story into two people who allegedly sexually harassed women, not just at the City owned DFFH at the Prairie South School Division as well. I have been digging into two separate, high-profile cases involving sexual harassment at two publicly funded bodies.
My involvement in all of this began with two occurrences. One was the firing of Graham Edge and, the other, my research into bullying at a local school.
In the school case, I was told of some of the most disgusting and disheartening bullying of a child I ever heard in my life, which, if true, will break anyone's heart. What I heard was the story about a little girl bullied to the point where not only did she not want to go to school anymore but became suicidal. What the allegations entailed was that a group of children had urinated in a container and then poured it on this tiny child's head.
The parents had gone to the principal with their concerns and about this I was told nothing had been done about it, so I started to ask questions.
Then one day I heard that the principal of Westmount School and a male staff member had been terminated two weeks before the end of the school year. For me, I started to assume it was about the bullying going on and the division office had heard about it and taken decisive action.
I started to work on that angle of the story and found out my assumptions were 100 per cent wrong. What allegedly happened at Westmount School was that a male teacher was sending unsolicited, intimate emails to a female teacher who then went to the principal who allegedly covered it up. The whole incident accelerated when, again allegedly, another employee of the school would not quit talking about it all in the staff room even after he had been asked by a female staff member to stop.
As a result, one male teacher was terminated for his alleged actions, the principal was dismissed and the loose-lipped employee was suspended for a day. All those who might know about it from the school, the division and right up to the union shop steward were sworn to secrecy and told not to discuss the issue.
At the DFFH, former General Manager Graham Edge was working on his own investigation into some very serious allegations. The allegations were so powerful that the former General Manager was almost prepared to speak to the police about it, just prior to his termination.
According to a source, the investigation into the allegations Graham Edge had probed into were dealt with at the board level, where according to Edge, they were swept under the rug. If you believe Edge, the number of people who knew about the DFFH allegations included not just the board members but senior managers with the City but nothing was done.
I will tell you that I have been doing my best to delve into these allegations and have had preliminary discussions with the women who were victims. It was a story I wasn’t hoping to break in the next two weeks. These are women who, if the allegations are true, need our help and there needs to be something major done about it.
Now I will tell you this though about these allegations and that is everybody has the right to their day in court, because false allegations happen all of the time. But with that said, I will also say that in the next couple of weeks I was going to write the story and allow the individual accused here to have their full say as well.
The problem with all of this though, is that at the present time you have three members of Council locked out of discussions into all of this because of their alleged actions while on the DFFH board and three discussing what to do about it. With the resignation of Don Mitchell at the end of June, it left no clear majority of a quorum voting into what to do. With a 50/50 split it might be very hard to censure or proceed.
Yes if these allegations are true what you have here is a major scandal or TWO major scandals involving sexual harassment within the community.
I am not a lawyer but in my opinion there needs to be a full public disclosure. We need to protect the rights of the accused because everyone deserves the right to their day in court but at the same time you need to protect the victims.