Liberal MP Yasmin Ratansi toxic and verbally abusive on facebook about ethnicity

MP Yasmin Ratansi denies allegations of violent, inappropriate social media behavior.

After it was announced, the former Liberal MP quit caucus hiring her sister in her office.

After more than a week of silence, MP Yasmin Ratansi posted a message on Facebook dismissing claims by former workers that she created a toxic and verbally abusive atmosphere in her office and neglected some constituents' immigration files.

MP Yasmin Ratansi has had her sister on the public payroll for years, a breach of House of Commons bylaws
MP Yasmin Ratansi has had her sister on the public payroll for years, a breach of House of Commons bylaws

In the post, Ratansi writes that "anonymous allegations have surfaced from my workers claiming unethical behavior. I categorically refute this To the best of my knowledge, nobody has complained about me.

"I truly think I have acted respectfully and properly. Former staff members remain close friends, and I'm honored to have mentored many over the years."

Multiple reports alleged that they saw Ratansi asking workers to stop working on immigration and family reunification files for certain South Asian voters because she felt they were "untrustworthy" or because of their ethnicity.

"This is simply false," Ratansi wrote.

Allegations 'fake'

"As many of you know, I have devoted much of my life to building bridges between Canadians of different backgrounds and have been recognized for my work in this regard," she added.

"As the first Muslim women elected to Parliament and through my community service, I know the problems facing visible minorities in our world. Discrimination against any group of Canadians violates my fundamental beliefs."

The now Independent MP quit the Liberal caucus earlier this month after a CBC News report discovered that in breach of legislative laws, she had been hiring her sister in her constituency office for years.

Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion's office sent a letter of concern to Ratansi last week and gave her 30 days to respond.

Several former employees told CBC News Ratansi that they attempted to conceal the relationship by making her sister use a false first name. Former employees say they saw her sister hidden in a spare room while members of the public came to the constituency office.

"I think it's horrific that a member of Parliament that's entrusted to behave honourable and ethically can get away with impunity," said a former employee on November 9. "It really questions the integrity of the institutions."

MP Yasmin Ratansi disputes former employees' claims of establishing a "toxic and verbally abusive" atmosphere.
MP Yasmin Ratansi disputes former employees' claims of establishing a "toxic and verbally abusive" atmosphere.

'Ethics commissioner co-operation'

CBC News promised to shield sources' identity, who said they faced damage to their jobs and Ratansi's revenge after speaking out.

"Like I said," Ratansi said in today's Facebook post, "I erred in the last few years getting my sister as a paying staff member.

"I have apologized for this lapse in judgment, addressed the situation, and am cooperating with the Ethics Commissioner."

In reaction to Ratansi's comment today, a former employee sent CBC News this statement: "I am disappointed in Yasmin Ratansi and her lack of integrity in denying the allegations against her. She needs to acknowledge that she acted unprofessionally, was a bully and abusive towards her staff."

Ratansi is a qualified accountant, representing Don Valley East from 2004-2011 and from 2015 to the present. Ratansi was chair of the Standing Committee on Climate until a few weeks ago and used to be the vice-chair of the committee monitoring the expenditures of federal agencies.

According to six former colleagues, her sister Zeenat Khatri was her constituency assistant for most of her time in office.

Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion investigates the actions of MP Yasmin Ratansi after she was discovered employing her sister in her parliamentary office
Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion investigates the actions of MP Yasmin Ratansi after she was discovered employing her sister in her parliamentary office

Violate parliamentary laws

In her early years as MP, recruiting "immediate family"—including parents, husbands, and children—but not siblings was against the law. That changed in 2012, after the House's Internal Economy Board revised its bylaws, communications director Heather Bradley said.

MPs have their own spending budgets and according to the House of Commons, can pay constituency assistants a gross wage of $89,700 a year. That means Ratansi could pay her sister up to $269,100 for three years' salary.

Several former staff members often appear to have heard Ratansi casually complain by applying stereotypes to Chinese, South Asian, and Caribbean constituents and cultures.

The four former CBC News workers also spoke to say that Ratansi mistreated some workers by shouting about their jobs, threatening and openly shaming them.

CBC News talked to a fifth retired employee who said they never feel mistreated or made any disturbing remarks while Ratansi is opinionated.

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