Colin MacDonald, the cofounder of Clearwater, is asking for an order to strike significant portions from Elizabeth (Liz) LeClair’s statement of claim in which she alleges he sexually harassed her over a five-year period.

MacDonald argues there are details in LeClair’s allegations that go against civil procedure rules, as well as the statute of limitations.

As the Halifax Examiner reported in October, Gillian Hnatiw, LeClair’s lawyer, filed a notice of action against MacDonald. A statement of claim in that notice detailed LeClair’s allegations, including sexual harassment by MacDonald while she was working as a fundraiser for the IWK Foundation. LeClair alleges that harassment caused her mental distress, and she’s suing for damages, including $100,000 in punitive damages.

None of LeClair’s allegations have been tested in court.

On Aug. 10, 2023 LeClair posted a public statement on Twitter that details her allegations of sexual assault by MacDonald.

On Sept. 21, SaltWire published a response by MacDonald to that statement from August.

Allegations ‘obviously unsustainable’

In a notice of motion from MacDonald’s lawyer, Nancy Barteaux, dated Nov. 3, MacDonald alleges LeClair’s statement of claim “contains opinion, evidence, argument, irrelevant information, and allegations against non-parties in violation of Nova Scotia Civil Procedure Rule.”

As well, he alleges parts of the statement of claim are “obviously unsustainable as they are statute barred by the Nova Scotia Limitations of Actions Act.”

Significant sections of LeClair’s statement of claim are stricken out, as are several lines in which MacDonald is referred to as a “major” donor to the IWK Foundation.

In the first few paragraphs that detail LeClair’s allegations about MacDonald’s sexual misconduct, there are sentences crossed out that reference him as a “wealthy and powerful donor” who was 31 years older than LeClair.

Another sentence that includes the line “suggested she would ‘owe him'” is crossed out as is another line that says “Liz tried to deescalate and deflect his comments with jokes.”

A section titled the “Antigonish Incident: MacDonald Sexually Assaults Liz” includes LeClair’s allegations that MacDonald suggested they go to a hotel to have sex after a visit to another donor in that town. Most of the five paragraphs in that section are crossed out. What remains include the dates of that trip — April 8, 2014 — as well as a line in which LeClair said she would not have sex with MacDonald.

Still another section called “MacDonald’s Sexually Inappropriate Conduct Goes Unchecked” has several lines crossed out, including one paragraph that details a Dec. 18, 2020 incident during which LeClair met up with MacDonald at a coffee shop. LeClair wrote that at that meeting, she told MacDonald she “could no longer cope with his continued harassment.”

Details of LeClair’s complaints striken through

In a section titled “Liz’s attempts to hold MacDonald accountable,” MacDonald is asking that details about LeClair’s complaints about him to Dalhousie University, the IWK Foundation, Clearwater, and the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission be removed. That entire section is crossed out, with the exception of a sentence regarding LeClair taking a new fundraising job at the QEII Health Sciences Foundation.

As for his liability, MacDonald is asking that sections regarding the alleged sexual harassment, power imbalance between him and LeClair, as well as her allegations that she didn’t consent be removed.

Another section under liability titled “intentional infliction of mental distress” is completely stricken out.

In the section detailing the punitive damages LeClair said she suffered, a line that says “MacDonald has never faced any sanction or punishment for the trauma he caused to Liz” is crossed out, as is most of a paragraph that alleges MacDonald “behaved with impunity” and that LeClair was not the first woman “who suffered from this kind of sexual misconduct from MacDonald.”

A hearing for the notice of motion is set for March 27, 2024.

Suzanne Rent is a writer, editor, and researcher. You can follow her on Twitter @Suzanne_Rent and on Mastodon

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  1. Please keep following this story. I think one thing we can take from LeClair’s Twitter post is that you can’t just say here is what somebody did and I found it made me feel uncomfortable. (Too bad the response from MacDonald is behind a pay wall.) We need to find the courage to be clear and confident to say “no” out loud and not just in our heads. It’s about not being a victim.