It has come to our attention that an expelled member of the party, Brendan Copegog-White, is now openly denying the reasons for his expulsion––namely, sexual assault––naming the victim, and claiming he was the one taken advantage of. To be clear, when the CC became aware of the accusations (allegations of non-consensual sex, manipulation, and grooming) we immediately launched an investigation. The conclusion was that there was enough evidence to warrant expulsion, largely because it is our practice to trust the survivor.
To be clear, there were a number of circumstances that undermined the CC’s investigation. The first was that another member, Dmitri Melnik, undermined the initial investigation by confronting the survivor directly on the phone and challenging her allegations, and, following this, using his influence in the local cell and his position on the co-ordinating committee of the Revolutionary Student Movement (RSM) to push his version of events (claiming the survivor and their ex were the manipulators), and offering a pseudo conflict resolution process that effectively pushed the allegations under the rug. Moreover, he did cover up the allegations, failing to pass them along to the CC, thus causing the situation to fester. When the CC learned the extent of these allegations and the ensuing situation in the spring it immediately launched its own investigation and concluded that not only had the situation been covered-up but there was enough evidence to warrant the expulsion of both Brendan and Dmitri. Regarding Brendan, the following reasons were given for his expulsion: i) it is our habit to begin by trusting survivors; ii) we must always be receptive to accusations against members, no matter how influential these members are; iii) he demonstrated disturbing lack of discipline prior to and after the allegations came out, including a pattern of patriarchal behaviour that had already been called out before. As for Dmitri, the fact that he participated in covering up the allegations and did not alert the CC definitely warrants expulsion. The remainder of the Ottawa cell for its part was also deemed partly responsible, notably for giving in to misogyny, and was ordered to undergo a rectification process.
Meanwhile, the exit from the party of members of this investigation team prevented us from making a public statement, assuming that since the survivor and those in Ottawa involved in the situation were aware of these individuals’ expulsion would be enough. Moreover, we informed other organizations of the situation. Those of us who remain on the CC were not party to the investigation and thus, though aware of the general details, needed more information in order to make a coherent statement. Failing to provide a statement in the interim, though, was clearly an error and we self-criticize for that. The fact that Brendan is openly naming and shaming the survivor, regardless of the fact that neither the party nor the survivor were publicly broadcasting what had happened outside of the left community in Ottawa, warrants this statement.
One problem we have consistently encountered, and that has always undermined our work, is the need to expel members and supporters for sexual opportunism and sexual assault. We will doubtlessly continue to encounter this problem, and thus will have to continue to expel those who carry out such predatory activities (regardless of their history and standing), until it is pushed to the margins of the movement. It is our contention that this is a problem with the left as a whole, and nearly every leftist organization has imported such vile patriarchal behaviour into its ranks. What we hope makes us different than other organizations is that we refuse to shelter individuals, whether they be leadership or rank-and-file, once it comes to our attention.