In this place we are united in our desire to end workplace harassment

Elizabeth May

Madam Speaker, we in this place are quite united in our desire to ensure that workplace harassment, sexual harassment, these kinds of activities are no long tolerated or accepted in any part of our society, although the bill only goes to the issues surrounding work within government and particularly here in Parliament.

I also worked here many years ago when I was in the office of the minister of the environment in the 1980s and can attest to knowing exactly how much young women had to put up with. No young woman or young man should ever have to put up with the kind of cavalier attitude that boys will be boys and that we should let these things go by and not stand our ground.

I agree with the member that this is a sea change. We are seeing a transformational change that is global, in re-examining those things that were considered to be a patriarchal right to speak to women in different ways than they would speak to a male employee without giving it a second thought. Are there other places where the member thinks this Parliament could do more? The bill is a good step, but it is not going to be enough to make a society-wide transformation.

Pam Damoff – Member for Oakville North-Burlington

Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for her work on this issue. She is absolutely right. Legislation can only go so far. We had a lot of conversations at committee about the regulations that will accompany the bill.

When it comes to political parties, we need a process within each party for staffers to come forward. That is not something that will be legislated within this bill, but we certainly need the opportunity for all staffers to feel safe to come forward.

In my opinion, it needs to be someone completely independent. It cannot be done within the parties. I feel that staff need to be able to come forward to someone who is independent to share their concerns. Once that has been done, the legislation can kick in, in terms of what the framework is. It is important for those processes to continue as we move forward.