Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday, November 6, 2014
How common is harassment on Parliament Hill?
Parliament Hill was rattled with story, on Wednesday, that some senior press gallery types noted that they hadn’t seen before.
Liberal leader Justin Trudeau was forced to suspend two members of his party’s caucus — ethics critic Scott Andrews and Quebec MP Massimo Pacetti — after two female New Democrat MPs alleged they were harassed by them.
“I am aware of how difficult it is for people to come forward. I believe strongly that those of us in positions of authority have a duty to act upon allegations of this nature,” Trudeau said, according to CBC News.
“It’s 2014 — we have a duty to protect and encourage individuals in these situations to come forward. The action must be fair but decisive.It must be sensitive to all affected parties but, recognizing how difficult it is to do so, it must give the benefit of the doubt to those who come forward.”
It’s unclear, at this point, what kind of harassment the NDP MPs are alleging. We don’t know if it was sexual, verbal, physical or otherwise.
While no MP has ever been suspended for harassing another MP, that doesn’t mean that there’s not a culture of harassment on the Hill.
Political consultant Marcel Wieder sayst that harassment — sexual or otherwise — has happened on the Hill for decades.
“While blatant examples of sexual harassment on the Hill are few and far between there have been some less overt situations. All parties have made an effort to keep things quiet and deal with these sensitive issues internally,” Wieder, President of the Aurora Strategy Group, told Yahoo Canada News.
“Given the nature of the environment in Ottawa where people are separated from their families for long stretches coupled with the high pressure jobs, an active social scene and attraction to power has caused some people to lose their moral compass.
“This has contributed to strained relationships that resulted in a number of divorces among MPs and staffers in Ottawa and resulted in some unpleasant situations involving accusations of sexual harassment.”
Again, we don’t know exactly what Andrews and Pacetti are being accused of or even if they’re guilty of anything.
What is clear however, is that not many people are surprised by the allegations. People understand that this stuff exists on the Hill — enough people that something now needs to be done about it. (Source: Andy Radia | Yahoo News)