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Canada Saskatchewan’s child advocate apologizes, resigns after harassment complaints

Saskatchewan’s advocate for children and youth has apologized after his resignation over harassment allegations.

“I would like to apologize to my family, friends and the children of Saskatchewan and to the staff members of the advocate’s office,” Corey O’Soup said in a statement released late Thursday.

The legislature’s board of internal economy had said earlier in the day that Mr. O’Soup had been suspended after an investigation. He then tendered his resignation.

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Details of the harassment complaints were not released. A statement from the legislature said: “O’Soup’s suspension is the result of an investigation into multiple complaints of harassment.”

A statement from Mr. O’Soup’s office said the behaviour involved him and one other individual in the office. The statement, written by media relations consultants, said it “primarily consisted of inappropriate electronic communication and was not physical in nature.”

Mr. O’Soup’s statement said he regrets the pain he may have caused.

“He believes all workplaces should be safe and free of all harassment and is ashamed by his actions.”

The board said the investigation was done by an independent investigator with extensive experience dealing with harassment complaints.

Provincial ombudsman Mary McFadyen has been appointed interim advocate.

“Harassment cannot be tolerated in any workplace, and certainly not in the office of a statutory officer of the assembly,” Mark Docherty, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, said in a release.

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“I want to assure the staff members of the advocate’s office, and of all statutory offices, that we support their right to work in a safe and respectful environment.”

The advocate for children and youth speaks up for their rights, interests and well-being. Mr. O’Soup, a member of the Key First Nation, became Saskatchewan’s first Indigenous advocate when he took the job in 2016.

He said in the statement that he will continue to fight for the rights of Indigenous children in Saskatchewan.

A biography on the advocate’s website said Mr. O’Soup, married with five children, previously worked as a teacher and an Indigenous adviser for the province’s Ministry of Education.

In 2016, he helped lead the province’s response to a deadly school shooting in the northern community of La Loche. Later, as advocate, he said he would work to find ways to reduce the number of Indigenous children in care and improve mental-health services, especially in the North.

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