Sex allegations by Sarah Thomson 100% false, says TVO Agenda host Steve Paikin

Steve Paikin (right) on the Agenda

The Canadian Bazaar

TORONTO: Steve Paikin, who hosts The Agenda on TVO, has described allegations of sexual harassment levelled against him by former Toronto mayoral candidate Sarah Thomson, as “100% false.”

Thomson levelled the charges against Paikin in a post on her website Women’s Post on Feb 2, writing that a political talk show host “asked me if I would sleep with him” after they had lunch at a restaurant near Yonge Street and Eglinton Avenue West in 2010.

In her post, Sarah wrote, “In 2010 when I was running for Mayor of Toronto, I was on a political talk show with the other top four candidates.  The show was widely watched and it helped my numbers in the polls, so the next time I saw the host I asked if I might get on his show again. Always kind and friendly, he suggested we meet over lunch to discuss. My assistant and I met him at Grano’s on Yonge Street, and the three of us ordered our lunch. Not five minutes into the lunch the host asked me if I would sleep with him. My assistant almost spit his drink all over the table. I politely told the host that I loved my husband and would never do that. I then excused myself, went to the washroom and called my campaign manager.”

Sarah Thomson
Sarah Thomson says the host asked her if she would sleep with him.

She added that Paikin had approached her “several times” since then. “In the years since he’s approached me several times, usually at political functions, to suggest we `sleep together’ and he always laughs about it.”

Whatever the truth in her allegations, one thing sounds very bizarre: why would a man propose sex to a woman in the presence of someone else, unless that man is a crazy nut?

In his response, Paikin has accused Sarah Thomson of defaming him, adding that he will fight to reclaim his reputation.

Here is the full facebook post from Steve Paikin:

“Okay, now it’s my turn.

This is my response, written by me, not a committee of lawyers or spin doctors at 4 o’clock this morning. Yes, I’ve had a bit of trouble sleeping since this all came to light. And this is my statement, not my employer’s.

This past Saturday afternoon, I received an email from Sarah Thomson. I’ve known Ms Thomson for almost a decade, having covered her municipal and provincial political campaigns and seen her at various political events over the years, although I don’t believe I’ve seen or had any contact from her in several years.

To say I was gobsmacked by the allegations in her email is the understatement of my life. Even though I knew the allegations were 100% false, I did what I suspected was the appropriate thing to do and immediately passed the email on to my superiors at TVO. I knew the charges were bogus but I knew I owed it to my employer to be totally transparent about all of it.

The next day, Sunday, I spent two hours with TVO management and its lawyers answering every imaginable question. And I was happy to do it. I wanted to convince them that there’s not a shred of truth to any of this. I also appreciate the times in which we live, and given the seriousness of the allegations, understood that TVO might have to take action to protect its reputation.

To my delight, TVO has left me in the anchor chair of The Agenda. I appreciate that vote of confidence.

They also did the right thing by calling in an independent third party to investigate this mess and I welcome that investigation. Bring it on! I have no doubt but that a thorough and fair analysis of the allegations and the parties involved will point to the truth. I look forward to all parties having their say.

I find so much about this story completely perplexing. I have interviewed probably 20,000 people over the course of my 35 years in journalism.

I’ve moderated six leaders’ debates for federal and provincial elections — presumably a sign that during key moments in our country’s history, the people seeking the highest offices in our land think I’m impartial and respectable.

The #MeToo movement is too important to be undermined by spurious allegations. The only good thing about this has been receiving the huge number of emails and phone calls from people who believe me, and are prepared to say so publicly.

I’ve spent 35 years building my reputation. In one fell swoop, these lies have prompted outrageous headlines and connected me to a story to which I have no business being connected.

Well, all that ends today. Today, I begin to reclaim my reputation and fight back against these scurrilous allegations.

I mean no harm to Sarah Thomson. But Sarah, you and I both know the incident you described never happened. It’s complete fiction. To be clear, I did not have sex, suggest, request, imply, or joke about having sex with you.

Sadly, in this day and age, too many people are going to believe the lie, especially when it comes to this subject. I am mortified that in many peoples’ eyes, I have lost the presumption of innocence that I’ve previously enjoyed. But I did not do these things. There is simply no truth to these allegations.

You’ve defamed me Sarah. I have no idea why, but you have. And I simply can’t allow that to stand. The quest to reclaim my reputation, which you’ve tried to destroy, begins now. I look forward to vindication.”

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