Prime Minister Justin Trudeau takes part in a round table discussion with The Canadian Press in Ottawa on Monday, Jan. 15, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Change in politics, society on sexual misconduct ‘not fast enough,’ says Trudeau

Trudeau says society still lagging behind the systemic changes he is trying to make when it comes to preventing and responding to sexual harassment

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he believes society is still lagging behind the systemic changes he is trying to make on Parliament Hill when it comes to preventing and responding to sexual harassment and other inappropriate behaviour.

“We recognize that this particular workplace that is Parliament Hill is one that is rife with hierarchies and power dynamics wrapped up in and around an institution that for centuries has been the purview of a certain type of person — older, male, successful,” Trudeau said this week in a roundtable interview with The Canadian Press.

That, however, has started to change, the prime minister suggested, with the election of a more diverse group of MPs and political staff — although the consequences of that long-standing, male-dominated hierarchy have clearly not disappeared overnight.

“We have a system that has changed, but a society that is changing not fast enough, and that is going to lead to difficult situations.”

Related: Female MPs unsure what #MeToo movement means for Parliament Hill: survey

Trudeau, who self-identifies as a feminist and says he has zero tolerance for sexual assault, harassment or other forms of misconduct by his employees or caucus colleagues, was asked to address the fact that allegations surfaced last year involving someone in the Prime Minister’s Office.

Claude-Eric Gagne, who is deputy director of operations for Trudeau, has been on a leave of absence Nov. 1 pending an investigation into allegations that came to the attention of the PMO. Gagne says he challenges the veracity of the allegations, but is co-operating fully with the third-party investigator.

The PMO hired high-profile employment firm Rubin Thomlinson LLP to examine the case.

Related: Male MPs, staff are bystanders to sexual misconduct, former staffer says

Without commenting specifically on the case, Trudeau said he hopes to set an example in how he responds to the situations.

“I think the measure of it must be how we are changing and how we are responding to allegations, how seriously we take them,” he said.

“The fact that we have no tolerance for this — that we will not brush things under the rug, but we will take action on it immediately — is part of the modelling that we hope to see taken on elsewhere across the Hill, but also throughout workforces and workplaces in Canada.”

The Canadian Press surveyed current female MPs from all political parties last month to find out the extent to which they had been the targets of sexual harassment, assault or misconduct of all kinds, including during their time in elected office.

Some 58 per cent of respondents to the voluntary, anonymous survey reported having personally experienced one or more forms of sexual misconduct during their time in politics.

The results also suggested the problem also hits other players in the parliamentary system.

Seventy-six per cent of respondents said they had either witnessed, or been told about sexual misconduct targeting another woman, including a staffer, page, intern, House of Commons employee or MP.

Thirty-eight of the 89 female MPs participated in the survey.

Joanna Smith and Kristy Kirkup, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Province announces $100-million grant funding for Northwest communities

The Northern Capital and Planning Grant will go to four regional districts and 22 municipalities

Security guard now on patrol at three Terrace banks

Company hired to secure ATM vestibules due to safety concerns

LNG Canada sponsors fast-tracked driver’s license training in Terrace, Kitimat

The $80,000 contribution is part of the company’s commitment to hire locally

Prince Rupert Gas Transmission project searches for partners

TransCanada is renewing permits for its natural gas pipeline project to North Coast.

Coastal GasLink stops work to investigate archaeological find

OGC archaeologists are en route to the Houston-area site where Unist’ot’en report finding stone tools

B.C. students win Great Waters Challenge video contest

Video, mural and song about saving the salmon claims the top prize

Eight cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver outbreak

Coastal Health official say the cases stem from the French-language Ecole Jules Verne Secondary

Ontario police field complaints over Amber Alert for missing girl, 11, found dead

Some said the Amber Alert issued late Thursday for Riya Rajkumar disrupted their sleep

Former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell accused of sexual touching

Accuser went to police, interviewed by Britian’s Daily Telegraph

B.C. couple attacked with acid, slashed with knife in Vietnam

Warning, graphic images: Man has burns on 80 per cent of his body, slashed with knife

Northern B.C. First Nation clan says ancient tools found at pipeline work site

Archeologists from the Smithsonian Institute estimate one of the stones found dates back up to 3500 years

Names keep adding to vaccine petition started by B.C. mom

Maple Ridge mom started campaign to make vaccination a condition of attending school

Wilson-Raybould resignation stokes anger, frustration within veterans community

Liberals have had three veterans-affairs ministers — Kent Hehr, Seamus O’Regan and Wilson-Raybould

Most Read