Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Senior Politicians Step Aside, Prompt MPs to Reflect on Changing Attitudes

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Senior Politicians Step Aside, Prompt MPs to Reflect on Changing Attitudes

Article excerpt

Politicians step aside, prompt MPs to reflect

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OTTAWA - The swift sidelining of two prominent politicians jolted MPs into reflecting Thursday on the societal shift in attitudes about allegations of sexual impropriety, and how to ensure their parties handle the issue in the best possible way.

Patrick Brown resigned as leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives after CTV News reported that two women have come forward with graphic sexual misconduct allegations against him -- allegations he denies.

The Brown case prompted a woman who once worked at the Alberta legislature to state publicly that Liberal MP Kent Hehr made sexually suggestive comments about her when he was an MLA a decade ago -- an accusation that cost him his job as sport and disabilities minister, pending the outcome of an investigation.

Harassment of any kind is unacceptable, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement.

"As a government we take any allegations of misconduct extremely seriously, and we believe that it is important to support women who come forward with allegations and that is exactly what our government will do."

For his part, Hehr echoed the sentiment, saying the current conversation about harassment is a very important one.

"Throughout my career I have always tried to conduct myself with respect towards others, and I understand the most important thing is how each individual feels."

Earlier Thursday, Trudeau applauded the courage of those who levelled allegations of sexual misconduct against Brown.

"My thoughts turn immediately to the women who came forward, knowing how difficult it can be, to salute them for their courage and their leadership," the prime minister said at a news conference wrapping up his visit to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Trudeau said he hopes the women who have spoken out about Brown retain support among their friends, families and communities at large.

"I certainly hope their example will resonate."

Brown was a Conservative backbencher under Prime Minister Stephen Harper from 2006 to 2015, when he stepped down to run for leader of the Ontario PC party.

Current federal party leader Andrew Scheer said the allegations against Brown must be investigated fully. …

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