In a local story that has some #MeToo implications, a former 2018 Brampton municipal candidate has been accused of sexual harassment by a prominent Brampton MPP.
Sara Singh, the NDP MPP for Brampton Centre and the party’s current deputy leader, has accused Bruce Marshall of sexual harassment dating back to last year. A former firefighter and radio host for 40 years, Marshall ran for Regional Council in Brampton’s Wards 7 and 8, losing to Councillor Pat Fortini.MPP Sara Singh (centre) meeting with constituents (Photo courtesy of Sara Singh’s Facebook page)
Documents provided by Marshall to inbrampton.com detail how, from late 2017 to early 2018, Marshall was volunteering on Singh’s campaign for MPP. The documents contain a summary of the allegations, text messages between the two, letters Singh and Marshall sent to each other outlining those accusations and subsequent actions Marshall wanted to be undertaken.
At one point, Marshall admitted to having developed some feelings for Singh but denies having acted inappropriately with her in any situation. He claims it was Singh who initially expressed affectionate feelings back in December 2017, when he was helping her shoot a holiday greeting video to supporters which Marshall showed to inbrampton.com.
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In that video, she called him “a big teddy bear,” and said “he (Marshall) was awesome” as she blew a kiss toward the camera. Marshall said he later showed the video to several other people who agreed that Singh was “showing genuine affection”.
Neither Singh nor her spokesperson would provide any further comment on the content of the video, only that Singh asked Marshall to stop sharing with members of the public as it was ‘made when you were a volunteer in my campaign.’ The only other comments were released by the NDP party director, Lucy Watson.
“Mr. Marshall repeatedly crossed the line in his pursuit of Ms. Singh – in person and in long, rambling and derogatory emails and he was repeatedly asked to stop. It appears that he is now trying to harass her through the media. As Mr. Marshall disclosed, an anti-harassment investigation concluded that he violated the NDP’s anti-harassment policies. Women have a right to be safe in their workplace and in their community and that includes within our party. Our party is also considering legal intervention in this matter.”
As the provincial NDP’s anti-harassment policy states, harassment means “engaging in a course of comment or conduct that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome.” Marshall contends that, based on that definition and what Singh did in the video, that she herself violated the policy.
The summary of the allegations from the NDP to Marshall, as well as letters from Singh and Marshall to each other, spell out those allegations as follows:
What Singh Said
Through the NDP’s internal investigation, Singh accused Marshall of inappropriate touching, inappropriate behaviour, intimidating advances, behavior and inappropriate language. Examples of which were:
He called her “honey”, “Rani”, which means Princess or Queen in Punjabi, “a rock star” and said, “she took his breath away”.
He once drove her home and tried to hold her hand. She then moved her hand away.
The comments about Singh were done in person and electronically.
In several public events, Singh saw Marshall approached where she was and “lingered” around her as well as making “inappropriate eye contact”.
Specifically, Singh cited the Children’s Youth Advocate Rally at Queen’s Park on November 2018, the Riya Rajkumar vigil in February 2019 and the United Achievers Breakfast in which she felt threatened by Marshall approaching her vicinity.
What Marshall Said:
Marshall’s counterclaims against Singh essentially argue that her experiences with PTSD caused her to misinterpret his behaviour.
Marshall decided to begin the process of leaving her campaign in February 2018 when he detected that things had gotten ‘frosty’ between them before campaign officials asked him to leave the campaign.
He decided to run for regional councillor around the spring of 2018 at the urging of retired councillor Gael Miles, hence why he was showing up to more public events, in which Singh was also in attendance.
At the Child Youth Advocate Rally, Marshall denied that he stalked Singh and said he was there with his current girlfriend and congratulated MPP Mitzie Hunter after a speech, by which time he contends that Singh had left.
At the Riya Rajkumar vigil, Marshall said he never looked at Singh and was invited by one of the speakers for speech coaching.
In regards to the December 2017 video, Marshall said “intellectual property is owned by the creator, unless the creator is an employee. I was never an employee nor was I ever a volunteer. What I do is help friends get elected, or so I thought.”
“I have never been accused of inappropriate behaviour by any other women inside or outside the NDP prior to this incident,” Marshall said when asked if anyone else had ever raised issues about him with other women besides Sara Singh.
Marshall (on far right) in downtown Brampton (Photo courtesy of Bruce Marshall’s Facebook page)
“Lucy Watson is ridiculous and so is her ridiculous assertion. Further, she knows nothing about me, has never met me as in this case with everyone else involved in adjudicating my integrity,” Marshall said in response to Watson saying it was unjust and intimidating. “It did not presume any innocence and the conclusion was foregone as far as I’m concerned from the beginning.”
“Sara Singh is the bully of Brampton Centre. I believe she has to answer for what she has done. All she has to do is point the finger and you’re a dead man; she says you’re a monster so you’re a monster,” Marshall added, countering it was Singh, with vast influence in the community and the party, who is harassing him in an attempt to ‘keep him out of public life in Brampton”.
Marshall also “resigned” from the NDP in a letter to Watson, saying the party had ‘no strategic vision’, no humanity, no justice or fairness and that “white males have a target on their backs in the NDP”, adding that the party should overhaul its harassment policy, for NDP leader Andrea Horwath to resign over “a lack of leadership” in his case and for federal leader Jagmeet Singh to bring in an outside commissioner to do a full audit of the party.
No other action has been taken by the NDP at this time other than their consideration of legal action against Marshall if he “continues in his line of harassment” and Marshall said he is thinking of making a documentary about the overreach and negative consequences of the #MeToo movement.
“#MeToo is an important landmark. Everyone deserves to be respected. There was and remains quite a bit of legitimate accounting to be done, but this is not one of those cases. This is a case where a political party totally forgot “innocence until guilt is proven” and instead based its policy on the notion that “we believe survivors”, Marshall said.
“The finger is pointed, and then BAM! You’re dead.”