Parents of former PC staffer file court documents saying daughter got a settlement to stay quiet

Former Nova Scotia PC leader Jamie Baillie was forced out as leader in 2018. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press - image credit)
Former Nova Scotia PC leader Jamie Baillie was forced out as leader in 2018. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press - image credit)

The parents of a former PC caucus employee who quit her job in 2018 — months after the party fired leader Jamie Baillie for "inappropriate behavior" toward a female staffer — have filed sworn statements stating their daughter, Kait Saxton, settled "her claims against Jamie Baillie and the Progressive Conservative Party of Nova Scotia."

In their affidavit, Kathryn and Michael Saxton said they and other family members signed non-disclosure agreements (NDA) with their daughter. The affidavit suggests signing the documents was part of the deal.

"We were reluctant to sign these non-disclosure agreements, but Kait told us it was necessary to conclude the matters," reads the statement filed with the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia.

"We do not know who required us to sign these agreements but we do not believe it was at Kait's request."

The Saxtons also allege their daughter "was a victim of some sort of sexual assault and battery by Jamie Baillie." Parker Donham, who is acting as a spokesperson on Baillie's behalf, refutes that claim.

"Mr. Baillie categorically denied the allegation contained in an affidavit by Michael and Kathryn Saxton," Donham wrote in an email to CBC News on Tuesday morning. "There was absolutely no assault of any kind."

Speaking late Monday afternoon, Tara Miller, who was president of the PC Party of Nova Scotia at the time, vehemently denied the party asked Saxton to remain silent or that the party or PC caucus paid her any money beyond what she was entitled to as routine severance pay.

"There's no NDA," Tara Miller repeatedly told reporters. "There's no confidentiality clause."

To bolster her argument, Miller produced an email dated April 12, 2018, from the lawyer the party had hired to handle Saxton's release from her job as researcher. The party redacted the lawyer's name from the document, but in it they noted, "What is NOT included in this release that is unusual is a confidentiality agreement."

"There are no restrictions on what Kait can talk about regarding the settlement. As you will recall we did not want her to claim that she had been 'muzzled' or any third parties to suggest we had imposed a 'gag order' that would keep this secret," reads the email.

Independent MLA Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin spoke with reporters on Tuesday, April 4, 2023.
Independent MLA Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin spoke with reporters on Tuesday, April 4, 2023.

Independent MLA Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin speaks with reporters on Tuesday, April 4, 2023. (CBC)

The affidavits are part of court action launched by Independent MLA Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin, who is accusing Premier Tim Houston and the PC Party of Nova Scotia of "a continued and constant harassment campaign" against her.

She is trying to get the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia to declare "null and void" a resolution brought forward last spring by then minister of community services, Karla MacFarlane, aimed at expelling her from the legislature. The former cabinet minister is now Speaker of the Nova Scotia legislature.

Smith-McCrossin, the MLA for Cumberland North, brought forward the suit after failing to convince the deputy Speaker that MacFarlane's motion infringed on her rights as a member of the House.

MacFarlane introduced her motion days after after Smith-McCrossin stood in the House to accuse the Progressive Conservative caucus of having forced Saxton to sign a non-disclosure agreement when she left her job in 2018.

Premier Houston has said his party would not bring the resolution to a vote, but Smith-McCrossin is concerned the party in power can vote to expel her as long as it remains on the order paper.

'The party did nothing wrong'

Miller also denies there was any sort of financial settlement between the party and Saxton.

"I can say categorically the party did not pay anything," said Miller. "The party did nothing wrong.

"In terms of the party, there was nothing that was done other than the party voluntarily offering to cover counselling."

Saxton, 33, died of brain hemorrhage at her family cottage in Wentworth in June 2022.

In their court filing, Michael and Kathryn Saxton claim their daughter gave away money she received because "she felt it as 'dirty money,' in her words."

In their sworn statement, the Saxtons recount their daughter meeting briefly with MacFarlane in the foyer of a building near Province House. They claim it was in December 2017.

"Karla MacFarlane hugged Kait," they wrote. "Karla MacFarlane and Kait then had a brief conversation.

"We were only there for a couple of minutes when Karla MacFarlane had Kait sign a document on her back. We do not know what that document was and did not ask Kait at the time as we respected her privacy."

In a companion affidavit, Smith-McCrossin noted that same encounter: "[Saxton] met with Karla MacFarlane who requested she sign an agreement respecting the sexual assault by the senior member of the Progressive Conservative caucus.

"She signed legal documents with no legal counsel."

In response, Miller produced a document with what she claimed were Kait Saxon's initials, telling reporters what Saxton actually signed was an extension of her work contract, noting she wanted to be excluded from the government pension plan.

"They are the facts," MacFarlane told reporters. "This is proof."

She said the affidavits are riddled with "mistakes" and "assumptions."