Home Page Election 2019 News Opinion Foreign Policy Politics Policy Legislation Lobbying Hill Life & People Hill Climbers Heard On The Hill Calendar Archives Classifieds
Hill Times Events Inside Ottawa Directory Hill Times Store Hill Times Careers The Wire Report The Lobby Monitor Parliament Now
Subscribe Free Trial Reuse & Permissions Advertising
Log In
Hill Life & People

Singh’s commitment to due process in sexual misconduct investigations on point

By Nancy Peckford      

Processes to ensure a fair and impartial hearing for both alleged victims and perpetrators of harassment are crucial to existing Hill harassment policies, as well as the newly tabled federal legislation under Bill C-65.

NDP MP Christine Moore, pictured at her press conference on May 14 in her Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Que., riding where she denied the allegations of sexual misconduct against a former Canadian soldier. Screen capture courtesy of CPAC
Share a story
The story link will be added automatically.

OTTAWA—Just as the weather was turning warmer and MPs could see the light at the end of the tunnel, the Hill was buzzing over the investigation into the alleged misconduct of NDP MP Erin Weir, parts of which were leaked. To compound matters, a military veteran from Saskatchewan, Weir’s home province, also emerged to claim that he had been inappropriately pursued and harassed by NDP MP Christine Moore. Moore is one of the MPs who has put into question Weir’s behaviour.

At the end of the week, both Weir and Moore were out of caucus, and the NDP had launched a new investigation into Moore’s behaviour.

While it has no doubt been a bumpy ride for the NDP caucus and leader Jagmeet Singh, the investigations themselves, and commitment to due process are on point. The party’s approach to respecting the confidentiality of the results of the investigation into Weir also make sense in this context.

Processes to ensure a fair and impartial hearing for both alleged victims and perpetrators of harassment are crucial to existing Hill harassment policies, as well as the newly tabled federal legislation under Bill C-65.

The federal Department of Labour is currently providing technical briefings and opportunities for input to stakeholders on the regulations to accompany Bill C-65 which will apply to the federal political arena. The selection of a ‘credible person’ to conduct an investigation and confidentiality of the findings of the investigations are among the core principles.

A lawyer by trade, Singh is not naive as to what a good process looks like. Just has been the case for Weir, Singh has said that the investigation of Moore would be undertaken upon the selection of a qualified investigator, who can proceed in a timely manner.

He stated: “I trust both parties will participate with the investigator in good faith. My responsibility is to ensure there is a fair and independent process in place and therefore I will not comment on the specific claims from any one person or on the investigation until it is complete.”

As may be obvious, leaving these matters to be resolved in the court of public opinion is rarely productive, even when it is your only recourse.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, where recent allegations of bullying and harassment have emerged on the part of several female elected officials (including a current and former provincial cabinet minister), the public realm has been a tough domain for this conversation. This is particularly true when you are confronting members of your party, and challenging the very high expectations for party loyalty and discipline at all times.

Ultimately, however, it has been both the absence of a harassment policy and an accompanying process to investigate behaviour at the House of Assembly in Newfoundland and Labrador, which has exacerbated the experience for elected women, as well as recent efforts to deal with it.

As Equal Voice has endeavoured to examine harassment policies in each jurisdiction across the country, we have been struck by the lack of familiarity with existing policies among elected officials in some legislatures, and the non-existence of policies that apply to elected officials in others. Clearly, this must change. Policies must also always be sensitive to the gendered dimension of harassment, not just sexual harassment, and recognize how power is deployed in often cut throat, “winner takes all” environments.

Until very recently, political institutions have been loath to regulate personal behaviour unless it directly impacted the party or government’s ability to fulfill its primary functions, or negatively affected its reputation. There is no doubt that the reputational liabilities for parties of not being seen to promptly deal with harassment and bulling from within are increasing, especially as politics becomes more diverse. The onus of responsibility has intensified.

By extension, then, the policies and procedures to address alleged harassment and violence in the workplace must be prompt, fair, robust and clear. Otherwise, parties risk paying the price with their caucuses and in the polls. To that end, Labour Minister Patty Hajdu’s commitment to ensuring the federal political arena is covered by Bill C65 shows real leadership.

Nancy Peckford is national spokesperson for Equal Voice, which advocates for more women to get elected in public office.

The Hill Times 

Related Policy Briefings
Mental Health Policy Briefing
Short and informative analyses on policy challenges that bring background and recommendations to policymakers, journalists and the general public.

Read policy briefing

Politics This Morning

Get the latest news from The Hill Times

Politics This Morning


Your email has been added. An email has been sent to your address, please click the link inside of it to confirm your subscription.

Nearly 100 new MPs offer new face of Parliament, including 60 in flipped seats

In many ways the incoming Parliament looks quite similar to its predecessor, with 240 returning MPs, the same number of MPs who are Indigenous or a visible minority, and 10 more women.

Rise of advance voting raising questions about impact on, and of, campaigns: experts

Almost 4.8-million Canadians voted at advance polls this year, according to Elections Canada estimates, a roughly 30.6 per cent increase over 2015, accounting for roughly one-quarter of all ballots cast this election.

Watchdog’s proposed minority Parliament rules an affront to confidence convention, says legal expert

News|By Mike Lapointe
Democracy Watch says Governor General should speak with all party leaders before deciding who can try forming government, but Emmett Macfarlane says the confidence convention is the linchpin of the parliamentary system.

McKenna may be moved to new cabinet role after four years implementing Grits’ climate policies, say politicos

News|By Neil Moss
Catherine McKenna's 'tenure in environment would have prepared her well for any other kind of responsibility the prime minister may assign,' says former environment minister Jean Charest.

‘They went with what they knew’: Politicos react to Election 43

'If anybody should've won a majority, it should've been Trudeau. He didn't, and it's his to wear,' says CBC columnist Neil Macdonald of the Oct. 21 election results.

‘A clear mandate’: Trudeau wins second term, with voters handing Liberals a minority

News|By Beatrice Paez
Though not improbable, his victory was not inevitable. It brings an end to a nail-biting, gruelling 40-day slog that has exposed deepening rifts across the country.

McKenna wins re-election in Ottawa Centre, trumpets voters’ support for climate fight

News|By Neil Moss
'I’m so relieved,' Catherine McKenna said, about continuing with the Liberal climate change plan.

Election 2019 was a ‘campaign of fear,’ say pollsters

'There may well be a message to this to the main parties, that slagging each other will only take you so far,' says Greg Lyle.

Election 2019 campaign one of the most ‘uninspiring, disheartening, and dirtiest’ in 40 years, says Savoie

News|By Abbas Rana
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May says she has never seen an election where mudslinging overwhelmingly dominated the campaign, leaving little or no time for policy discussion.
Your group subscription includes premium access to Politics This Morning briefing.