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Speaker of Ontario Legislature Resigns Amid Harassment Furor

September 25, 1996

TORONTO (AP) _ The speaker of Ontario’s provincial legislature resigned Wednesday, a day before his colleagues were to debate a motion to oust him for alleged sexual harassment of an aide.

Al McLean, 59, said in a resignation letter that he was innocent but was quitting to avoid distracting the legislature.

McLean, who went on a three-month sick leave last week, had previously refused to step down even temporarily.

It is the second sex scandal of the year for the Conservative Party majority that dominates the legislature in Canada’s largest province. Legislator Bill Vankoughnet was charged in May with soliciting sex from an undercover policewoman and was required to attend a so-called ``john school″ awareness program as a condition for getting the charge dropped.

McLean had been under fire for several weeks over allegations he sexually harassed Sandi Thompson, hired in March as a special assistant.

When the legislature ended its summer recess Tuesday, opposition lawmakers demanded an immediate vote on a motion to oust McLean.

The Conservatives opted to delay the vote until Thursday so that all legislators could read an independent investigator’s report on the harassment complaint.

The report, written by University of Toronto law professor Katherine Swinton, has not been made public. But Thompson says the findings support her allegations that she was repeatedly harassed by McLean, a dairy farmer and twice-married father of six from the Orillia area north of Toronto,

McLean, in his resignation letter, said he was convinced he will be cleared.

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