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O’Toole asks House to investigate toxic workplace allegations against Shannon Stubbs

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OTTAWA —
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole says he’s asked the House of Commons to probe allegations that Alberta MP Shannon Stubbs created a toxic work environment for her staff.

The move prompted others, including those who want O’Toole ousted as leader, to come to her defence after she called for his leadership to be reviewed following the party’s election loss.

O’Toole says he learned of the allegations, which were first reported by the Globe and Mail on Monday, last week while touring in Quebec. The Canadian Press has confirmed an allegation in the report that employees say they felt pressured to paint her house.

Stubbs’ office did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but told the Globe the house-painting was a gift and denied any wrongdoing, saying she felt targeted for calling for a review of O’Toole’s leadership.

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David Parker, a former staffer who worked in Stubbs’ office for almost a year beginning in 2016, told The Canadian Press it was clear that for the MP, “nothing was good enough, ever.”

Three other former staff members, who spoke to The Canadian Press on the condition of anonymity because they feared reprisals, allege that Stubbs would openly criticize colleagues in the office, send texts overnight and make belittling comments.

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The Canadian Press has not reviewed those alleged communications.

O’Toole said Monday he asked the House of Commons to look into the matter because the allegations are of a serious nature, and expects his MPs to behave professionally.

“As I’ve been leader for a year, I’ve set an expectation on all my MPs that we will have a professional and respectful workplace environment,” he said in response to the allegations.

Others, however, have come to her defence.

Gregory Loerts, who currently works in her office, tweeted Monday that Shannon is “wonderful to know personally.”

“The work has been challenging, but extremely rewarding.”

Former Conservative cabinet minister Gerry Ritz tweeted Monday that “Shannon is a great MP.”

The Globe and Mail reported that Jordan Paquet, who worked for Stubbs for four months in 2020, told the newspaper that he “got along extremely well” with Stubbs. He added that he “didn’t notice anything untoward. No abuse or anything like that.”

Stubbs has so far been the lone Conservative MP to publicly call for O’Toole’s performance to be reviewed by the party’s membership within six months after losing the election in September.

Outside their first caucus meeting in October, Stubbs said O’Toole flip-flopped on some key Conservative policy positions and that the grassroots deserved to have a say if the leader intended on making more changes to the party.

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Alissa Golob, co-founder of the anti-abortion organization RightNow, which has been fiercely critical of O’Toole walking back promises he made around protecting the conscience rights of health-care professionals, tweeted Monday the leader was embarking on a “witch hunt.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 6, 2021

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