British Columbia MLA Adam Walker says he hopes to clear his name after what he called an "abrupt" decision by Premier David Eby to remove him from the NDP caucus over a human resources complaint.
Walker said the premier told him in a two-and-a-half-minute call on Sunday afternoon that he would no longer be a member of the caucus.
"And the gist of it was basically, I've made up my mind, you're out of caucus, and that was the crux of the whole conversation," Walker said Monday.
Details of what led to Walker's removal have not been made public, with both Walker and Eby saying privacy rules prevent them speaking about a human resources complaint.
"There's a clear path as far as next steps to clear my name and to address the situation and that'll be done through arbitration," Walker said.
"And that process, I have full faith in happening in a timely way, to make sure that all the appropriate facts are considered and good outcomes are made."
Eby told an unrelated news conference earlier Monday that he decided Walker needed to be removed after a formal investigation by the NDP caucus.
He said a complaint by an employee was made in late July and the issue doesn't involve allegations of sexual harassment and is not a criminal matter.
Walker called the situation "sad."
"I've put a lot of effort into supporting a party that is putting people first, I still have faith in the party. But it's definitely a sad day for me and my family to be removed so abruptly," he said.
Walker was elected to the provincial legislature in 2020 to represent the riding of Parksville-Qualicum on Vancouver Island. He was previously a town councillor in Qualicum Beach.
He said it's always been his intention to run for at least a second term, but it's too soon to say whether that will still happen.
Neither Eby, nor anyone close to him, has laid out a path that could lead to him being welcomed back to the caucus, he said.
"It'll be a decision entirely up to the premier and I have faith (in) whatever decision he makes in that regard," he said.
Eby said he doesn't believe what the caucus investigation found could be remedied by a training process for Walker, who will now sit as an independent.
Walker said he has received many calls of support since the news of his removal was made public. He said no one has suggested he resign.
"I'm going to take this opportunity now to to be a little bit more public and more vocal about the challenges in my community that I wasn't able to do while I was in caucus," Walker said, pointing to the large number of people in his constituency without a doctor.
Eby called the situation "challenging" and said informing Walker he was being removed was "not a happy day."
He said any time an MLA is removed from caucus is "an opportunity for review."
"It's a big responsibility we ask people to take on as MLA, they not only have to represent their communities, they not only have to be up to date on policy and law, and be able to advocate, but they're also employers, they have to run an office in their community, they have obligations to their employees directly," Eby said.
"And we're operating in a unionized environment with collective agreements as well, which adds a level of complexity for people who maybe haven't been employers before."
Eby said he can assure the people in Walker's riding that a formal and thorough process was followed.
"As in any human resources process, we have an obligation to privacy in those matters," he said.
"And simultaneously, you know, Mr. Walker is a public official, accountable to the people of Parksville-Qualicum. … I wish I could share more about this, but I can't."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 18, 2023.
Ashley Joannou, The Canadian Press