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

Alberta’s Pascale Paradis earns bronze in 7.5 km Female Biathlon

Canada Games action carries through to March 2nd

Alberta earns three medals in Long Track Speed Skating

Alberta now has 16 medals (6-5-5) and currently sits in second place of the medal standings

Calgary singer Shaye Zadravec gearing up for City appearance

Talented songstress to open for Latin guitarist Oscar Lopez Feb. 22nd

Team Alberta takes exciting victory in wheelchair basketball, remains undefeated

After three games in the tournament, Alberta is sitting in first place of its pool

Team Alberta adds nine medals on day two of competition at Canada Winter Games

Team Alberta had a solid day at the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer

‘Our entire municipality is heartbroken’: Seven children die in Halifax house fire

A man and woman remained in hospital Tuesday afternoon, the man with life-threatening injuries

Alberta investing $3.7B to move oil by rail, leasing cars

4,400 leased railway cars will move up to 120,000 barrels of oil per day by 2020

Make sure measles shots up to date, Public Health Agency says

Measles causes high fever, coughing, sneezing and a widespread painful rash

Payless to close 248 Canadian stores, saying it’s ‘ill-equipped’ for market

The company will begin closing stores at the end of March

UPDATED: ‘Violent’ B.C. man back in custody after Alberta arrest

Prince George man with ties to Vernon was being sought by police

After a week away, SNC-Lavalin questions await MPs returning to Parliament

Two have resigned already: Jody Wilson-Raybould was veterans affairs minister and Gerald Butts was Trudeau’s principal secretary

Chanel: Iconic couturier Karl Lagerfeld has died

He spent virtually his entire career at luxury labels catering to the very wealthy

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh calls for public inquiry over SNC-Lavalin questions

Vancouver member of Parliament Jody Wilson-Raybould resigned from cabinet last week

Body found after apparent house explosion in Calgary, police investigating

Sgt. Dwayne Lepchuk declined to say whose remains were found

Most Read