Kimmel buttons

A Calgary United Conservative Party members saying he’s frustrated with the “old Tory entitlements” says will be bringing buttons of support for a staffer suing the government for suffering sexual harassment in “a toxic workplace” to the party’s AGM.

The “I’m with Kimmel” buttons are in support of a former chief of staff, Ariella Kimmel, who in her lawsuit detailed her time in a “poisoned work environment” and spoke of sexual harassment and the excess drinking she witnessed while working in the legislature under Kenney’s government.

Kimmel has worked with the UCP government since May 2019, most recently as the chief of staff to the minister of jobs, economy and innovation from August 2020 until she was fired in February.

The statement of claim says Kimmel witnessed Agriculture and Forestry Minister Devin Dreeshen drinking with other ministers and staff and appeared “heavily intoxicated.”

UCP member bringing ‘I’m with Kimmel’ buttons to AGM

Dreeshen Courtesy CBC

Kimmel had an on-and-off relationship with Dreeshen prior to being appointed chief of staff in 2020, the CBC report said.

None of her allegations have been proven in court.

“After the story came out, I talked to female friends who were involved in politics and they had ongoing concerns,” said Alex McColl in an interview with the Western Standard.

“It would seem Deven Dreeshen has a bit of a history of inappropriate behavior when he’s drinking.”

McColl is also a freelance columnist for the Western Standard, but is not on staff.

Several days after the story broke, Dreeshen said he was resigning as agriculture minister to focus on his personal health. He remains in the UCP caucus.

While McColl said he has no intention of actively seeking out Dreeshen at the UCP AGM starting November 15 at the Grey Eagle Resort, if he comes across him he will give him a tongue-lashing.

“I will ask him how he thinks his drinking and behavior were appropriate. We have to hold up our standards,” McColl said.

“If we don’t change that we will lose the next election.

A member of the original Wildrose Party, McColl said he also wants to see Premier Jason Kenney gone, “preferably with a leadership vote at the AGM.

“Alison Redford was way more popular than Kenney is now when the Tories took her out,” McColl noted.

He said a mail-in leadership review with all the members, overseen by a third party, would be the ideal way to go, adding he had been around many nomination meetings that had “improprieties” in them.

Kimmel alleges after expressing her concern about how much Dreeshen had been drinking, she was confronted by the minister who “aggressively yelled at her to the point where she was in tears and a concerned bystander intervened.”

The statement also points to another incident two days later where another group was drinking in the minister of health’s office. Kimmel alleges the minister’s principal advisor, Ivan Bernardo, made sexually inappropriate comments to one of her female staff members.

Kimmel claims her report of the exchange to Chris Thresher, chief of staff in health, and the premier’s director of issues management, Matt Wolf, went unanswered for close to a month.

On November 17, Kimmel was asked to meet with Kenney’s principal secretary, Larry Kaumeyer where she shared about her interaction with Dreeshen and the sexual harassment by Bernardo.

Kimmel said she was told by Kaumeyer that Bernardo was “not going to be fired” but would be leaving his position at the end of the year anyway. Kimmel said her other concerns were not addressed. Kaumeyer is no longer working in the premier’s office.

Kimmel was terminated on February 5 even though she has been told by Kaumeyer she would not be fired for bringing her concerns forward. She is seeking more than $399,000 for damages and the salary owed to her until her contract would have expired in May 2023.

Damages Kimmel is claiming in the lawsuit include: “poisoned work environment,” fabricating and spreading rumours against her, failing to implement a robust sexual harassment policy, terminating her employment in reprisal, causing mental distress and reputational harm, and affecting her future employment opportunities.”

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

News Editor & Calgary Bureau Chief

Dave Naylor is News Editor & Calgary Bureau Chief of the Western Standard based in the Calgary Headquarters. He served as City Editor of the Calgary Sun & covered Alberta news for nearly 40 years.

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