Erin Weir is not well-known outside of Canada. Even many Canadian readers won’t recognize the politician’s name. But the story of how he was smeared and excommunicated by his own political party presents a stunning indictment of political cowardice in the age of #MeToo. And what happened to him could happen to virtually anyone who runs for office.
Weir is a federal Member of Parliament (MP), having been elected in 2015 to represent the Saskatchewan riding of Regina-Lewvan. He ran in that election as a candidate for the New Democratic Party (NDP), which sits to the political left of Justin Trudeau’s governing Liberals, and constitutes the third-largest party in the Canadian parliament. His downfall began on January 30, 2018, the day he announced his candidacy for NDP caucus chair by sending an email to other NDP MPs, and to the leader of the federal NDP, Jagmeet Singh (who, at the time, had not yet become a Member of Parliament). The email set off a chain of events that eventually led to his expulsion from the NDP caucus, and stripped him of the opportunity to stand as a candidate for the party in the upcoming Fall, 2019, federal election. Under the Canadian political system, party leaders are free to unilaterally block candidates, no matter the views of voters or the rank-and-file. Without party affiliation, Weir’s political career is effectively over.
Weir’s undoing was the work of Christine Moore, an NDP MP for the Quebec riding of Abitibi-Temiscamingue. In a reply-all email responding to Weir’s expressed interest in becoming caucus chair, she wrote that she could never support him because “there are too many women (mostly employee[s]) who complained to me that you were harassing to them.” She then added: “As a woman, I would not feel comfortable to meet with you alone.”
Like Weir, Moore was not well-known—except insofar as she already had helped ruin the career of two MPs in Justin Trudeau’s Liberal party after advancing claims that they, too, were sexual harassers (a subject discussed in more detail below). And her new accusation would have come as a surprise (and still does) to anyone who knows Weir, a 37-year-old economist who once worked for the Canadian section of the United Steelworkers union.