Legal fight begins over harassment allegations by former Cowichan NDP candidate

Dwaine Martin said he’s “shocked” over alleged sexism and harassment claims that have been made against him.

Dwaine Martin said he’s “shocked” over alleged sexism and harassment claims that have been made against him.

Martin, a former campaign manager for Georgia Collins who had been running for the NDP nomination for the Cowichan Valley, said there’s no truth to the allegations.

Martin said he has begun a defamation of character lawsuit against Collins for the allegations, and she has been served the legal papers.

“In my 35-year political career, Georgia Collins has been the most difficult candidate I have ever dealt with,” he said.

“I have never said or did anything sexually inappropriate to her.”

Collins suddenly dropped out of the contest for the provincial NDP nomination for Cowichan Valley on Dec. 28, stating that she was the victim of sexism and harassment from Martin, as well as within the party, during her campaign.

Collins, a long-time social activist, had been running to replace retiring MLA Bill Routley as the NDP candidate for the Cowichan Valley in this spring’s provincial elections, but halted her campaign on Dec. 28.

Collins made her allegations public on her Facebook page.

In a letter sent to NDP officials on Dec. 15, Collins said the NDP party’s constitution and procedures are “inadequate” for dealing with cases of sexism and harassment.

She said staff and local party officials are either “incapable or were ill advised” when dealing with her situation.

But Martin is denying all allegations against him and is claiming that Collins has stepped outside the NDP party’s internal complaint process by going public with the issue before party officials had investigated or made any decisions regarding her allegations.

He said that while Collins has made the allegations against him on her Facebook page, she had never filed a specific complaint against him with the NDP during the process.

“I couldn’t respond to her allegations publicly because it was part of the NDP’s internal complaint process, and she refused the party’s order to remove the allegations from her Facebook page,” Martin said.

“She only began making this an issue when the vetting process for the nomination began, and she never made these allegations before because she was never a victim of sexism or harassment by me.”

Collins said on Jan. 5 that she’s “at a loss” as to how to proceed with the issue.

She said she has no idea how to deal with an experienced NDP operative who has 35 years of “spinning stories about people.”

“It’s hard to reply to the statements he’s making to the media, but I’m comfortable with my statements and my case,” Collins said.

In a press release in response to Collins and her concerns, NDP treasurer Amber Hockin said that the party is “disappointed” with the circumstances surrounding her decision to drop out of the campaign and are investigating the matter further.