Staffer alleges harassment in lawsuit against Kenney's office
A former Alberta legislature staff member has sued Kenney's office, saying she suffered from a toxic workplace culture and harassment. She claims she was fired for speaking out about the problems she saw there.
Ariella Kimmel claims both include sexual harassment and heavy drinking by ministers occurred in legislature offices. She worked as the chief of staff to the minister of jobs, economy and innovation from August 2020 until she was fired in February 2021. She had worked with Jason Kenney's UCP government since May 2019. Kenny himself is not named in the suit.
One statement says Kimmel found Agriculture and Forestry Minister Devin Dreeshen drinking with a chief of staff in his office. Both appeared to be intoxicated, Kimmel said, and she expressed concern about how drunk Dreeshen was and encouraged him to stop drinking.
Later, she claims the minister confronted her about the intervention and "aggressively yelled at her to the point where she was in tears and a concerned bystander intervened."
Kimmel had previously been in an on-and-off relationship with Dreeshen.
Ivan Bernardo, the minister's principal advisor, is alleged by Kimmel to have made a racy comment towards Kimmel's female staff members.
"I haven't seen you on this floor before because with a body like that, I would have noticed you," the statement alleges Bernardo said.
UCP MLA Leela Aheer, who previously served as Minister of Culture, Multiculturalism & Status of Women, has called on Jason Kenney to resign immediately in light of the allegations.
"Ariella Kimmel is an incredible and courageous women. Premier Kenney - you knew! Step down! Sean Chu - you were sexually inappropriate with a minor! Step down! Enough is enough. To say I have lost confidence is an understatement," she wrote on Twitter.
Aheer was referring to allegations of impropriety with a minor when Ward 4 Councillor Sean Chu was a CPS officer in 1997; he was 34, and the victim was 16.