Behind closed doors: MPs willing to hear harassment stories in secret

Proposed legislation seeks to establish courses of action on harassment claims in federal workplaces

Behind closed doors: MPs willing to hear harassment stories in secret

Lawmakers studying legislation to strengthen sexual harassment laws in workplaces are open to hearing stories of staff members, interns and their colleagues in secret.

The human resources committee of the House of Commons has agreed to set up confidential sessions so that harassment stories may be heard while the privacy of those sharing them remains protected, Liberal MP and deputy government House leader Chris Bittle said.

The procedure and House affairs committee passed a motion creating a sub-committee to handle the task, the Canadian Press reported.

Bill C-65 wants to give employers and workers a clear course of action in dealing with allegations of bullying, harassment and sexual misconduct.

The changes would merge separate labour standards for sexual harassment and violence. These will be subject to the same scrutiny and dispute resolution process.

The process can mean an outside investigator may be brought in to look into allegations.

These would also apply to employees working under parliamentarians.

A separate code of conduct between MPs is also being reviewed.  Liberal MP Filomena Tassi, the government's deputy whip, said it is time to dig deeper because things have changed so much in the past few months.

She cited the #MeToo movement, the recent cases involving Canadian politicians and a survey of female MPs by The Canadian Press as factors in the change. The code was established after two New Democrats accused two of their Liberal counterparts of sexual misconduct four years ago.

Another policy dealing with harassment involving MPs and employees is also being studied.

Related stories:
Trudeau wants society’s approach to workplace harassment to change – and fast
Pressure or panic? Why does sexual harassment go unreported?

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