Debates on reports of harassment finally began Tuesday in Newfoundland and Labrador’s House of Assembly.
Former minister Dale Kirby and MHA Eddie Joyce have seen many complaints been filled against them for harassment and bullying in the workplace. Kirby was stripped of his position in Newfoundland’s cabinet in last April as a result, but the House moved this week for more severe reprimands.
A 21-day suspension without pay for both MHAs was voted down but MHA Lorraine Michael’s amendment for an “individualized respectful workplace training” passed.
More and more complaints about harassment and bullying in the workplace seem to rise across the country. Making it a growing problem for a number of provinces.
Harassment is covered by various labour laws specific to each province. And the House of Assembly of Newfoundland is regulated by the Code of conduct. But the steady augmentation of cases poses a necessary question : are these enough?
For Newfoundland’s House of Assembly, it doesn’t seem so. The Privileges and Elections committee was charged of coming up with a new policy specifically targeting harassment and bullying for the House of Assembly.
On the eve of the ‘me too’ movement, harassment and abuse of power of any kind are less and less accepted or even ignored. These issues are being acknowledged in every strate of society, including the usually thight-lipped political one. But with the growing number of reports, new legislations and condemning, while still being a very important first step, doesn’t seem to be quite enough. Accountability and responsibility have to be engrained in people with a position of power. This seems even more necessary for political figures representing people and holding important roles within the House of Assembly and government. MHAs Kirby and Joyce will have to go through a ‘respectful workplace training’ as a reprimand for actions already done. But maybe that training should be enforce on anyone considering a seat in the House of Assembly as a preventive measure instead of a reprimand.
Like uncle Ben said, “with great power comes great responsibility”, and responsibility, it seems, must be taught for a growing number of people in a growing number of cases.
This blog post was written by a CCLA-PBSC RightsWatch student. Views expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCLA or PBSC.