Ontario PC Party president Rick Dykstra resigns after sexual assault accusation - Macleans.ca
 

Ontario PC Party president Rick Dykstra resigns after sexual assault accusation

The Conservative Party was made aware of the allegation against the then federal MP, but it decided to let him run in the 2015 election


 

Rick Dykstra, then president of the Ontario PC Party, arrives for a meeting to pick an interim leader at Queen’s Park in Toronto on Friday, Jan. 26, 2018. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)

Senior Conservative campaign operatives discussed dropping MP Rick Dykstra as a candidate in the 2015 federal election when they became aware of allegations that he sexually assaulted a young staffer the previous year.

The campaign decided to allow him to continue to run. He lost his St. Catharines riding and subsequently became president of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives, a position he resigned on Sunday night, two hours after he received an email from Maclean’s outlining the allegations contained in this story.

Dykstra is a friend of Patrick Brown, who was leader of the party until he stepped down last week after several women told CTV news that he had engaged in inappropriate sexual contact with them. Brown denied the allegations and supporters feel he has been sand-bagged. Dykstra played a key role in the tense behind-the-scenes showdown over how the party will replace Brown.

Dykstra’s resignation on Twitter made no mention of the allegations against him. “As the process unfolds, I have made the decision to step aside as president and take a step back for someone else to lead us through the hard work,” Dykstra tweeted. Dykstra initially acknowledged receipt of the Maclean’s email and said he “will be responding.” This story will be updated when a response is received. His lawyers told the Canadian Press on Monday that he “categorically denies” this story.

A young Conservative staffer filed a report with Ottawa police in 2014 complaining that Dykstra sexually assaulted her after a party.

The woman, who was then in her early 20s, worked for another Conservative MP at the time, a friend of Dykstra’s. She spoke about the incident to her boss, several friends, an official in the party whip’s office, and finally hired a lawyer but the Conservative government did not take action against Dykstra.

The young woman spoke to Maclean’s on condition of anonymity because she believes speaking out publicly could damage her career. The allegations have not been proven in court.

The alleged incident took place on Feb. 11, 2014, the night of the federal budget. The young woman went to Hy’s Steakhouse, a now-closed Ottawa restaurant and bar, for the traditional post-budget party. Later, she went with a group of Conservatives, including Dykstra, to Chateau Lafayette, a downtown tavern, for more drinks.

READ: Patrick Brown’s downfall goes far beyond politics

At about 1:30 a.m., the woman, who says they were both drunk, decided to go home. Dykstra jumped into her cab and gave the driver his address. When they got there, he was “very insistent” that she go upstairs with him, she says, ignoring her repeated refusal.

She eventually relented. When they got to his apartment, she says he pushed her against the wall and starting kissing her. “I was saying no, but I didn’t feel there was much that I could do to stop what was happening,” she says.

She felt powerless in part because he was much stronger than she was, she says.

“He brought me into his bedroom and he told me to sit down on his bed and that he would be right back. He had a bathroom that was adjoining to his bedroom and when he came back he was wearing only his underwear. And he sat down next to me and was still trying to kiss me. Eventually I got up to leave and there was a space between where his bed and the wall was. He cornered me and had me there. I didn’t feel like I could move.”

She says Dykstra forced her into a corner and stood over her.

“Eventually he pushed me down into the space between the wall and his bed. So I was kind of cornered with the bed here, the wall here and a side table here and him blocking my entrance. So I didn’t have anywhere to go. And at that point he pulled down his underwear and forced me to perform oral sex on him.”

She says that when he climaxed, he said, “I know you liked that,” and went to the bathroom.

While he was in the bathroom, she grabbed her coat and purse and fled, and called a friend to say that she had been assaulted.

She initially didn’t want to go to the police, but did write an account of the incident at the urging of her friend.

Her friend eventually convinced her that she had to report it. She gave the Ottawa police her written statement, they interviewed her on camera and launched an investigation, but she ultimately decided not to lay charges. The investigating officer confirmed on Sunday that officers investigated and that the investigation was stopped at the request of the alleged victim.

READ: Patrick Brown and priorities: Why the PC Party leader couldn’t last

The young woman says her job became stressful because she worked in the same building as Dykstra. “It became almost crippling for me anytime I needed to use the elevator and have to leave my office because I knew there was a chance I would have to be in close proximity to him.”

Things got worse when he popped by her office.

“Maybe a week or two after, I wore the same dress that I had been wearing the night that it happened and he came up to our office and commented how nice I looked in the dress I was wearing,” she says. “That kind of sent it over the top for me, that just interactions with him were awful.”

When she became aware that Dykstra was going to attend an event, she felt she had to tell her boss about the incident, to ask him to keep Dykstra away. To her knowledge, her boss took no other action.

She was depressed and having trouble sleeping. She got tested for sexually transmitted diseases, and got prescriptions for anti-depressants and sleeping pills. She started looking for other jobs.

She confided in friends, looking for advice because she was terrified of how it would affect her career if she complained.

“What struck me was how she told me about it from a position of fear,” one friend, a successful entrepreneur, said in an interview last week.
“She was clearly extremely upset,” said another friend, a lobbyist. “She was not only confiding in me but seeking insight in terms of next steps.”

The woman’s friends spoke on condition of anonymity because of concerns over their careers.

Eventually, another friend told the party whip’s office that she had been assaulted. Kym Purchase, then the chief of staff in the whip’s office, made contact with her and they went for coffee.

“I expressed that I was worried that I didn’t know what the impact would be of me having told (my boss) about this, and I didn’t know if I was just going to be out of a job or what would happen. She told me that they would keep a file on record in the whip’s office in which it would say I had expressed concerns about it.”

Purchase said Sunday that the young woman said she didn’t want a file created, because she was afraid the information would leak out and damage her employment prospects.

“There was no sexual harassment policy on the Hill,” Purchase said. “There were no guidelines in terms of what to do in these situations. So at the end of the day, what you are left with is the choice of human decency, and when a person does not want you to say anything, what do you do?”

January 26 Then PC party president Rick Dykstra walks into the Caucus room Friday morning at Queen’s Park to discuss leadership in light of resignation of Patrick Brown amid allegations of sexual misconduct. (Richard Lautens/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

The young woman says she is certain she asked for a file to be created, because she wanted there to be a record in case she was let go.
She ultimately decided to leave federal politics and left Ottawa. In August 2015, after she received private Facebook messages citing the incident, she considered asking the police to reopen the investigation, so she hired a lawyer, who wrote to the party whip’s office to seek a copy of the file created after her conversation with the official.

In October, during the election campaign, lawyer Arthur Hamilton, who often acted for the Conservative Party on difficult legal and political matters, wrote to her lawyer to say there was no file.

“At present, the initial answer from the Whip’s office is that there is no file, and specifically no memo from (the official) as you have described it in your correspondence.”

That exchange of letters came to the attention of the Conservative war room, where officials discussed whether Dykstra should be dropped as a candidate. He was not.

“Positions came down gender-wise,” said a senior Conservative speaking on condition of anonymity. “The women around the table in the discussions had a much different opinion than the men around the table.”

Another Conservative campaign official in the meeting where officials debated this, speaking on condition of anonymity, said there should have been a file.

“If there was no investigation, no investigation notes on an accusation that serious, that would demonstrate a problem with our process.”

The woman who alleges she was assaulted says that the party was not looking out for her.

“They never once asked what I really wanted. It was all about just making sure that nothing got out and their public image was OK. As if they were just trying to put it off until after the election.”

She thinks that things have changed since then.

“It was a different culture, I guess you could say.”

After he was defeated in the 2015 federal election, Dykstra ran for the presidency of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives, winning by acclamation after his friend Brown brokered a deal where the other candidate, Jag Badwal, withdrew.


 

Ontario PC Party president Rick Dykstra resigns after sexual assault accusation

  1. Of politicians or high profile political operatives forced to resign due to allegations of sexual impropriety, the tally so far this past week is 3 Conservatives and 1 Liberal.
    Cons are “winning” 3 to 1 recently at career-ending sexual impropriety allegations! Quite a feat. Congrats Tories.

    • they are not conservatives….they are libs

    • You are forgetting Hunter Toottoo (Trudeau Cabinet minister) and two Liberal MP’s from a few years ago. Trudeau, in Tootoo’s case, tried to underplay and hide that it was a harassment departure (like it was 1915, not 2015).

      2 Liberal Cabinet Minsters + two Liberal MP’s is greater than 2 Conservative MP’s.

      And then there is the case of Liberal Senator Colin Kenny of a few years ago.

      • There was also the Liberal Deputy Minister of Education Benjamin Levin who is currently incarcerated for his sexual misconduct.

  2. It’s hard to believe Brown and Dykstra were able to take over the PC party. And why would Caroline Mulroney want to have anything to do with them? It boggles the mind.

    • she likes the taste,,,

  3. Brown’s boy all the way, trampling over the rules of their party’s constitution to get their way, I’m glad he resigned, although there was no practical way he could stay.

  4. I don’t understand why you would go up to someone’s apartment at 2 in the morning if you are already not comfortable with the situation?!

    But this is the part that I REALLY don’t understand… I accept you are in the 1% of the population who don’t think it’s completely inappropriate to get drunk around your boss, and the the 0.1% of the population that wouldn’t think it’s utterly insane to go to your boss’s apartment at 2 a.m. while you are both drunk and not expect that there would be some sort of romantic or sexual advance… after he has made that advance and you are now clear about the intentions, would you not just get up and walk out when he went to the bathroom the first time?!

    Please don’t get me wrong, I do not condone any sort of inappropriate or predatory behavior but as someone who is now getting constantly bombarded by the Media with these stories, some of which are heart-breaking stories of true victims of sexual assault and some of which are just outright ridiculous, I need to be able to form an intelligent and objective opinion as a reader before I endorse burning someone at the stake.

    And back in the days – a mere 3 years ago – that opinion would have been based on the good old social and legal litmus test of “what would a reasonable person do in this situation” to assess the likelihood of the story being true.

    There was also a long-cherished now a-thing-of-the-past constitutional and fundamental right of presumption of innocence that separated us from the barbarity of medieval times when people were being burned at the stake without a trial and in front of a dazed and frenzied crowd not much different from what we are seeing today.

    You can’t release a big bolder down a slippery constitutional slope and expect that it would not hurt many many innocent people as it picks up speed and becomes unstoppable. Just something to think about.

    • The public and the media are now judge and jury and in effect do the sentencing of the accused also because the accusations destroy lives. (a sentence in itself) The accused are immediately deemed guilty in our new world order. I myself have been assaulted so I do know what I am talking about. Accusations that remain anonymous will help to further erode our democracy. Women are equal…equally as wonderful as men and equally as horrible as men. I have known many men who have made things up and many women who have made things up or who have completely misinterpreted or twisted a situation. I am sorry but this young women should never have gone up to his apartment. I even knew that back in the 80’s. I am getting tired of ‘anonymous’ sources in the news and ‘anonymous’ people who accuse others , remain in the shadows, and destroy lives. Police will take allegations seriously and if something happened it has to go through, while imperfect, the legal system. The media and ‘anonymous’ women who are presuming guilt of someone need to read about the Salem Witch Trials… no matter what anyone says this is the same thing. The presumption of innocence and the right to a fair trial is all we have. In the current environment of hyperbolic exaggeration we take many things too far… sort of like a driftnet that catches more than what was intended. This is dangerous.

      • Another horrific example of a destroyed life due to accusations and the presumption of guilt in the court of the media and the public is what has happened to Aziz Ansari. Just read up on what happened to him. It is getting so bad that I have told my husband to NEVER be alone with a woman at work. Yes, I am a woman.

        • Fantastic posts Bev.

          My favorite is the Tither-Kaplan accusing James Franco of sexual misconduct and sexual exploitation because she signed a contract for a role that had nudity in it (clearly explained in the contract) and Franco had the audacity to ask her to do the scene that she signed up to do! ;)

    • Ben Judgeson – you just don’t get it. This has nothing to do with due process under the law and it has nothing to do with anyone being drunk. While you may think this woman made up the story, her description is clearly serious sexual assault. It’s almost like you didn’t read the article. This woman had no reason to think she was going to be assaulted when Dykstra forced his way into her cab and up to his apartment and into his bedroom. Why would anyone assume they would be assaulted? You put the onus on women to never put themselves in such a situation and assume that sexual assaults will suddenly disappear. Furthermore, as pointed out in the article, going through proper channels, doesn’t work and rarely does. That is the whole point of the Me too movement. Since normal channels don’t work, the court of public opinion is the only recourse and it is working very well indeed. No lawyer will be re-victimizing the victim and the sexual predator is punished almost immediately with life altering consequences. This is the only thing that will stop lecherous men from assaulting innocent women and so it will continue. There is only one way for men to avoid this – stop thinking you can force your sexual urges onto non consenting women and stop objectifying them sexually with words or deeds. Period. The me too movement is changing a very important part of power structure in society which is long overdue. Now women aren’t forced to defend themselves against powerful men with expensive lawyers who think it’s their right to sexually assault or demean women. Now men have to defend their sexual assaults in public and it never works. This is sweet poetic justice. Men now know what it feels like to be powwerless just like the women they assault. Real change is finally happening.

      • You are wrong. Due process is all we have. Civilization is but a thin veneer and chaos will prevail without due process. Most (not all) men are wonderful people who wouldn’t hurt a woman. Most women (not all) are wonderful people who wouldn’t hurt a man. BUT.. If someone accused YOU of assault (towards a woman or a man) and you know it never happened or your actions were misinterpreted or you thought you had consent.. would you be okay with the total destruction of your life without due process? I am a woman and I NOT a victim. I have been assaulted in the most horrible way and I went through the correct channels for justice. The ‘me too’ movement started out a good thing but has gone too far.. There is too much room for vindictive behaviour. I thought we had evolved from historical incidences like the religious trials of the middle ages and the salem witch trials. The rigidity, inflexibility and dogma of your position should be a warning signal to all people who want to preserve our democracy.

        • No Bev – it is you who is wrong – very wrong – and very naive. But you are in a class of your own having been sexually assaulted yourself. Obviously you took the perpetrator to court and won your case and he was punished to your satisfaction. Congratulations. Too bad that probably works for only about .01% of sexually assaulted women. If the justice system worked for sexually assaulted women it would be used constantly, but it doesn’t and the fact you refuse to see that doesn’t make it any less true. It seems that you think all women have to assume that every man they work with or play with can potentially assault them and that women should use their heads and stay out of troubles way. You learned that the hard way. If by chance a woman gets assaulted anyway – no problem just go to the courts and justice will be done – just like it was for you. This is unbelievably naive and extremely short sighted. First of all not all women victims are like you and they never will be. Your ego seems to be clouding your judgement. The whole point is that the legal system fails women in this regard regularly and that is why the me too movement exists and the court of public opinion is so important to get justice. The legal system worked or you. It doesn’t work for others – that’s reality. You are claiming that assaulted women who don’t use the court system are not much more than a collective of vindictive bitches. Wow. The difference between historical witch trials is that today’s accusations are not based on myth and irrational fear like witchcraft. They are based on real assault or real demeaning behaviour that keeps women in their patriarchal place. Of course in your world it’s not real if it doesn’t go to a court of law – it’s just vindictiveness. How many women are re-victimized by defence lawyers in a court of law by lawyers manipulating facts and destroying context to establish reasonable doubt. You are giving all sexually abusive men blanket reasonable doubt. However, most sexual assault victims, who are not as confused as you are about reality in a patriarchal society, know that going to court will hurt them more than it hurts the perpetrator. You are assuming that if a woman doesn’t take an assaulting man to court then the assault must be a false accusation. While this is possible, I’d put it at another .01% probability. Again very naive of you to suggest that. Anonymity is another essential tool for many women reporting sexual assault. Reactionary death threats against reporting women who are upsetting the status quo balance of power, are taking place today because of attitudes like yours. You may not realize it but you are victimizing sexual assault victims yourself by your wrongful assumptions.

          Public opinion is often wrong and it is often right. Public opinion is actually a cornerstone of democracy. Election campaigns depend on it and try to manipulate it ad naseum. It doesn’t necessarily mean it is right – ie: witch trials or naziism etc. The court of public opinion is the ONLY way for sexual assault victims to get justice because due process doesn’t work (except for you and very few others). Public opinion works for sexual assault victims because the consequences for offenders is real and painful and life altering. The consequences must be painful or it wouldn’t work. No slap on the wrist or suspended sentence – just real effective consequences for bad behaviour. You and other women like you, are doing a great disservice to sexual assault victims. Society is changing. The jig is up and no amount of whining about perpetrators being the the victims by focusing on rare exceptions will stop this Juggernaut. You are on the wrong side of history.

          • I can only hope that with some more life experience you might begin to understand the bigger picture. Your personal insults towards me kind of help to prove my point but as I don’t respect those who hurl insults I could care less . You clearly have an unhealthy perceptiin of men which is sad. All I can ask you is where will you go if you are ever unfairlyaccused of something horrific and you are assumed guilty with no recourse.

        • Due process is still available to Mr. Dykstra, and to Mr. Brown. What did Mr. Brown have in mind when he said he would clear his name?

          • The point is that many accusations are anonymous and that leaves the accused with no recourse. At times they do not even know what they are being accused of. People hide behind anonymity. Transparency is necessary as is due process or public burning at the stakes is what can occur. The other thing to remember is that in the current social climate a mere anonymous accusation can destroy a person’s reputation and entire life while the anonymous accuser is hiding in the shadows. Without due process we may now even know if the accusations are legitimate. It is not perfect but better than judge and jury by the public and that means me and you.

          • The names of the accusers are anonymous to you and me but not to Mr. Dykstra and Mr. Brown. Give the reports a good reading again, and think about it. CTV produced e-correspondence from Brown in which he writes to the anonymous-to-us accuser, see I remember your name LOL.

            In the case of Mr. Dykstra, she was was an employee of the party, complained to them… many people know who she, including Mr. Dykstra.

          • Loraine, they both had to leave their jobs without even being charged, let alone convicted!

            They’ve lost their right to a trial by jury as public opinion is already against them and it’s unlikely an impartial jury can be put together.

            And they now have to spend hundreds of thousands to clear their names if they’re innocent. Is this our idea of due process?!

          • B. Jusgeson : Mr. Brown definitely remains an MPP. He has lost the confidence of his colleagues in the PCPO to lead the party but he has not lost his job. He is free to run again, whether the PCPO will allow him to run for them is doubtful, but he is free to run as an independent. Mr. Dykstra says he chose to quit.

            I knew Pierre Sévigny (check it out), therefore the news these days does not shock or surprise me. A fling between two consenting adults has never been a crime but for politicians it can cost you your career. Political life has its own rules. Nothing new here.

      • Wow! I’m sorry but your post reeks of the very sexism and aggressive and hateful attitude toward the opposite gender that you are supposedly trying to stop in the world!

        Your foregone conclusion that this accuser is describing the events truthfully can only be based on the very flawed assumption that women are infallible and men are always guilty.

        Those generalizations were coming through quite clearly through your entire post but you actually had the audacity to spell it out at the end of your post: “men now know what it feels like to be powwerless just like the women they assault.”

        How absolutely offensive to have such an attitude in a society whose fundamental pillar is equality and freedom from discrimination based on gender. You may think misandry is now “cool” because of the MeToo movement but it’s no less hurtful or disgusting that misogyny or racism.

        You can change the players but the rules of the game don’t change.

        • You still don’t get it – probably never will. Twisting my words proves my point even more thoroughly. Women are powerless in the court of law when it comes to sexual assault. They emerge more victimized than ever, with a few rare exceptions. That is the only reason that the Me Too movement exists. You are used to a patriarchal society where women do what they’re told by men. Now there is a movement to restore needed balance and it only works if the consequences for men who sexually assault or demean women are severe. Do you think that women who are sexually assaulted don’t feel powerless? Do these victims feel severe and sometimes life long pain as a result of these attacks? Powerless and defeated that’s how most of them feel.

          You are offended by my statement “men now know what it feels like to be powerless just like the women they assault.” And in respect to misogyny, misandry and racism you said “You can change the players but the rules of the game don’t change.” If that is true then you have confirmed my statement. Men had sexual power over women and now women have some modicum of sexual power over men. Same game – different players. But its more than that. The me too movement is a re-balance of power. No one likes to have their power usurped. Obviously you don’t. You’d like it to go back to the way it was with men being able to sexually abuse women and almost always get away with it because of a legal system that works in their favour and re-victimizes the victim.

          To stop the me too movement, attitudes like yours have to change. Men have to stop behaving badly. It’s that simple and its that logical.

        • This person will never understand what you and I are saying because she/he is obviously from a generation where civilized debate, once the life blood on the campuses and in society is rarely heard. Young people often don’t know what to do when different points of view are offered except name call, obfuscate and shut down debate. As an educator I feel my profession is partly to blame. This person sounds to me like she is in a PHD program around womens’ studies… and we all know how non democratic, authoritarian, dogmatic and far far far left that area can be… no room for any other prespectives much like in the former Soviet Union and Communist China.

          • I have been unable to comment Bev… I just get a “please slow down, you are posting too fast!” message 12 hours after my post and even under a new handle while our friend here has gone on ranting and raving!

            Apparently our freedom of expression is being taken away too!

            Our freedom of conscience went out the door with the Islamophobia bill.

            Our fundamental right to presumption of innocence went out the door with the MeToo movement.

            I don’t think we need to talk about China and Soviet Union… this is the new Canada… we’re just glad we got the hell outta there.

          • Wow, surprise that last comment went through!

            Our friend here is unfortunately very uninformed and you hit the nail right on the head about not bothering with facts or listening to other perspectives – two things that used to be cornerstones of our democracies.

            55% (not 0.01%) of sexual assault cases that went to court in Canada between 2009 and 2014 led to a conviction!

            Source: StatsCan

  5. Trump is more mentally strong than people give him credit for. A few accusations and conservatives are dropping like flies. Is that all it takes? If yes, Liberals will easily win this coming election.

  6. accusations aside,
    The PC party needs to politically purge itself of all of these establishment Liberal-lite politicians.

  7. Remember when the media were championing Dykstra over Oosterhoff in the Niagara area nomination race for the Ontario PC candidate.

    The media, at that point, already knew the rumours and still ran biased coverage against Oosterhoff in that contest.

  8. Is it my imagination or is there a lot of alcohol being consumed at public expense so that predators can have fun? Sounds like we elect politicians to one big fraternity/ sorority party. The first step should be excluding alcohol from all expense claims. If you want to drink it comes out of your after-tax pocket.

  9. Fake News !!! This story says Patrick Brown has several accusers like he is similar to Harvey Weinstein when in fact there are only two allegations that have been widely reported. Then this Dykstra allegation seems a lot similar to the Babe.net story against Aziz Ansari that is being scrutinized by various outlets it was not assault but in fact a bad date. They both were drunk in a cab – what did she expect to happen if she went into his apartment if she really did not want to have sex with him she should have told the cab driver I don’t want to go with him drive me home or call the cops. Disgusting how the left and the media are collaborating together to take down conservatives in high ranking positions.

  10. Girls, girls, girls!!………………….please don’t go alone up to our apartments at 2 a.m. when we ask. Not sure how to get everyone to listen, because it’s been said so many times before. There are a few men that aren’t sexual deviants when they’re drunk at that time of the night. Chances are you’re not going to be lucky enough to find one then. If you want to play the odds then, yeah, go ahead! It’s not going to turn out well for you though.