TORONTO — A veteran journalist with Ontario’s public broadcaster fired back and denied a sexual harassment allegation made by a Toronto woman, calling the claim “complete fiction.”
Steve Paikin, host of TVOntario’s flagship current events program “The Agenda,” broke his silence Tuesday with an extensive statement on Facebook, where he said he was “gobsmacked” by the allegation outlined to him in an email from his accuser over the weekend.
“Even though I knew the allegations were 100 per cent false, I did what I suspected was the appropriate thing to do and immediately passed the email on to my superiors at TVO,” Paikin wrote. “I knew the charges were bogus, but I knew I owed it to my employer to be totally transparent about all of it.”
Paikin said he spent two hours Sunday with TVO management and its lawyers “answering every imaginable question.”
His comments come after TVO announced Monday that an independent third party will investigate the allegations, during which time Paikin will continue to host “The Agenda.”
Paikin commended the broadcaster Tuesday for bringing in the investigator, adding that “I have no doubt that a thorough and fair analysis of the allegations and the parties involved will point to the truth.”
Paikin and TVO have said the claims were mounted by former Toronto mayoral candidate Sarah Thomson, who Paikin said he has known professionally for more than a decade.
In a post Friday on Thomson’s website Women’s Post, she wrote that a political talk show host, who she did not identify, “asked me if I would sleep with him” after attending a lunch at a Toronto restaurant in 2010. She said her assistant was present for the meeting.
She said she “politely” declined his offer, then went to the washroom and called her campaign manager, who advised her to leave, which she said she did.
Thomson has not responded to requests for comment from The Canadian Press.