'Handsy' apology

Former New Democrat MP Peter Stoffer is apologizing for any offensive behaviour, a day after allegations of inappropriate touching and kissing were levelled against him by women during his time in Ottawa.

The popular former politician held a news conference in Halifax today where he said he was "deeply apologetic and regretful" following claims dating back to 2006 when Stoffer was the MP for the suburban riding of Sackville-Preston-Chezzetcook.

Stoffer specifically denied sexually assaulting or physically abusing anyone, but he admitted that his behaviour as a "very gregarious, fun-going person" may have led to behaviour that was perceived as inappropriate.

"By some of the comments that I've heard recently, from some people in the past, they're saying that some of my demeanour, some of my comments were inappropriate," he said, describing himself as a "touchy person."

"For that I humbly apologize without reservation. If there is any man or any woman that at any time felt uncomfortable ... because of my demeanour in any way shape or form, for that I apologize and I humbly regret that I put them in that type of situation."

Stoffer told reporters gathered outside the Canadian Immigration Museum at Pier 21 that he is "a touchy person" and that "if anyone feels those actions were untoward, then I deeply apologize."

In allegations made public Thursday, one of the complainants, Lauren Dobson-Hughes, accused him of grabbing and kissing her without her consent on two separate occasions in 2006 and 2009.

Dobson-Hughes, who was an NDP staffer at the time of the alleged incidents, told the National Post that several other MPs and senior staff were present at the second alleged incident "but nobody batted an eyelid."

Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said Thursday that he is "deeply disturbed" by the allegations and the party would continue to "review, renew and expand" its harassment policies.

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