Independent MLA David Laxton has come to a “mutually agreeable resolution” with the woman who made an allegation of sexual harassment against him, according to a statement from the Yukon Human Rights Commission.
Laxton resigned as Speaker of the Legislative Assembly and left the Yukon Party on May 10, later revealing he made the decision because of an allegation of sexual harassment during business hours.
Michelle Stimson, the woman behind the allegation, made her first public comment about the incident in the commission’s statement.
“I am satisfied with this process and the resolution, and I know my fellow Yukoners will respect this. I am moving on with my life,” she said in a statement. “I consider this matter closed.”
The statement provided no information about the nature of the resolution.
“This process has been a profound learning experience for me,” Laxton said in the statement. “I sincerely apologize for any harm or distress that my conduct has caused her. I am sorry.”
In May, Laxton told the News the incident happened back in February, when Stimson came to his office for a couple of hours. He said they’d been friends for years, but they had a purely platonic relationship.
When Stimson left, he hugged her and kissed her on the lips twice, he said. Laxton said that “became a normal thing” over the course of their friendship.
Stimson has never publicly told her side of the story.
Laxton said he heard nothing more about the incident until May 9, when he was approached about it by Yukon Party chief of staff Michael Hale. Laxton resigned the next day.
Laxton subsequently called for a third-party investigation of the allegation, but the Yukon Party caucus likely doesn’t have the authority to conduct such an investigation, according to legislature clerk Floyd McCormick.
The human rights commission’s statement notes that the legislative assembly has no written policy for allegations of sexual harassment, which it says “should change.”
“The commission’s view is that in many organizations, it is extremely helpful in promoting equality to have policies in place to deal fairly and appropriately with allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination,” said commission director Jessica Lott Thompson.
She said the commission is willing to assist any organization looking to develop such a policy.
McCormick said it would be up to the members’ services board, an all-party committee, to come up with a sexual harassment policy for the legislative assembly. He said that could happen at any time, not just when the house is in session. But he hasn’t yet heard whether the board has any plans to create such a policy.
Laxton stepped down a week after announcing he was seeking re-election as MLA for Porter Creek Centre in this year’s territorial election.
In June, the Yukon Party announced it had dropped Laxton in the riding.
“It is the belief of the committee that Mr. Laxton should no longer continue as a Yukon Party candidate,” the party said at the time.
But Laxton seems not to have given up hope for a future with the Yukon Party.
“I’ve always been in favour of the party and what the party stands for and their ideals,” he told the News Thursday.
He said he hopes to speak with the party again to “see if there’s options there.”
He wouldn’t confirm whether he will run as an Independent MLA if the Yukon Party won’t have him back.
Meanwhile, the Yukon Party announced this week that Michelle Kolla has been acclaimed as the candidate in Porter Creek Centre, Laxton’s current riding.
Stimson did not respond to a phone message Thursday.
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