Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Quebec's Female Legislature Members Say They've Experienced Sexual Misconduct

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Quebec's Female Legislature Members Say They've Experienced Sexual Misconduct

Article excerpt

Quebec politicians discuss sexual misconduct


QUEBEC - Powerful women who rise to the top level of Quebec provincial politics are not spared from sexual misconduct and harassment, The Canadian Press has learned.

In the wake of the #MeToo movement that is raising awareness of sexual harassment, the 37 female members of the national assembly were asked to discuss their own experiences.

Of the 24 women who agreed to participate through surveys or interviews, most said they'd lived through some form of misconduct.

Almost two-thirds (63 per cent) said they'd experienced one or more forms of sexual misconduct as they carried out their duties as politicians.

Forty-two per cent of respondents said they had been victims of sexual harassment before entering politics, while two women said they had been sexually assaulted.

The six cabinet ministers and 18 backbenchers reported numerous forms of misconduct that included groping, derogatory remarks of a sexual nature, comments on their physical appearance, intimidation, exhibitionism, inappropriate gestures and assault.

Liberal MNA Karine Vallieres, who agreed to publicly discuss her experience, recalled being assaulted by a man dressed in a mascot costume during a public event in her riding.

Vallieres said that when she agreed to pose for a photo with the man he made a rude gesture, grabbed her buttock and whispered in her ear, "would you come help me take off my costume."

While one might expect the formal setting of the legislature to inspire exemplary behaviour, some of the survey respondents noted that wasn't the case.

Several of them reported having received comments on their physical appearance while exercising their parliamentary functions.

Those include Vallieres, who said a speaker who came to present a brief during a legislature committee on the study of a bill once commented on her body and said she had a pretty face.

The majority of respondents, at 67 per cent, said the legislature is neither better nor worse than other workplaces when it comes to sexual misconduct. …

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