Patty Hajdu
Patty Hajdu
Patty Hajdu

OTTAWA: Labour Minister Patty Hajdu says MPs have the power to stand up for themselves in the face of sexual harassment on Parliament Hill, but political staffers are particularly vulnerable to abuse and need better protections.

She says these staffers are often young, inexperienced and in precarious jobs at the best of times and the fact that their employer, who might be the perpetrator, is an MP makes things even worse.

She says staffers often also have a sense of party loyalty that can make it even harder for them to come forward.

Hajdu says proposed legislation to tighten federal workplace harassment rules, which would also apply to parliamentarians and their employees, aims to give more power to staffers, including by making sure they have access to a neutral third party to examine their complaints.

She also says it is too early to begin claiming the pendulum is in danger of swinging too far the other way, especially as young staffers have told her about how they share advice on which MPs get a little too hands-on when they have had too much to drink.

She also says that if male politicians, who still have most of the power, are beginning to question where the limits are, it’s a good thing.

The Canadian Press