The leader of the B.C. Conservative party believes the B.C. Liberals are worried because his party's platform is resonating with voters during the provincial election campaign.
On Saturday (Oct. 17), the B.C. Liberal Party called on B.C. Conservative Leader Trevor Bolin to answer for how he, as a business owner, handled a case of sexual harassment among his employees in 2018.
The incident ultimately resulted in Bolin firing the employee who complained about the sexual harassment, which WorkSafeBC called a discriminatory action in retaliation for her complaint.
The Liberals called on Bolin to publicly address his actions in a mass email sent to supporters and media, with a WorkSafeBC report attached (the report can be read below this story).
Bolin responded to the allegations during a campaign stop in Kamloops on Saturday.
"You know what, it's the B.C. Liberals trying to find anything they can because they're concerned we're resonating with voters, so the easiest thing they can do is find something that happened at one of my stores and release that," said Bolin, who is running for MLA in the riding of Peace River North and also sits as a city councillor in Fort St. John.
His B.C. Conservatives are fielding candidates in 19 of the province’s 87 ridings, including Dennis Giesbrecht in Kamloops-North Thompson. General voting day is Oct. 24.
In January 2018, the fired employee complained to the store's general manager that her supervisor had sexually harassed her, stating in a vulgar manner that he wanted to have sex with her, and previously telling her that he was willing to pay to do so, according to the complaint.
A meeting between the employee, store owner Bolin and the store's general manager did not resolve the matter, with scheduling conflicts standing in the way of changing shifts so the two employees did not have to work together.
After that meeting, the employee said she felt "completely unprotected and that nothing would be done."
As a result, the employee contacted the RCMP on the matter and, a week later, she was called in for a meeting with Bolin and the store's general manager. There, she was fired.
The employee insists she was fired because of the complaint, while Bolin claims the worker was fired due to her "hostility and insubordination within the restaurant."
"I let her go for actually yelling at the general manager across the store," Bolin told KTW.
In an emailed response to the B.C. Liberals’ email, Bolin said the woman's claims of wrongful dismissal are not true. But WorkSafeBC accepted the fired worker's complaint and that Bolin took "prohibited discriminatory action under the [Workers Compensation Act] in terminating the worker."
It also said Bolin, as the woman's employer, "[failed] to follow their own bullying and harassment policy."
Bolin said he regrets that the report was distributed by the Liberals during the campaign.
"It's unfortunate that they rolled this out and are making the families relive this after almost three years,” he said. “It doesn't belong in politics, it belongs in business.”
With incidents of sexism and misogyny making headlines on the campaign trail, Bolin was asked by KTW how voters can trust he would be able to deal with similar issues in his own party, should they arise.
"We've now doubled those recommendations that [WorkSafeBC] has. We've also started an open door policy, right to me as the owner,” he said. “If they go to the general manager or manager and don't get the results they want, they can freely then come to me and ensure it's investigated at an owner level and not a manager level, which that one was.”
Bolin claimed the incident was "the first and last issue any of my stores have had,” noting he employs more than 150 workers at different establishments.