Liberal MP accuses Tory MP of making comments that were 'sexual in nature'
Published Monday, December 4, 2017 4:02PM EST
Last Updated Monday, December 4, 2017 7:19PM EST
OTTAWA – Liberal MP Sherry Romanado has accused Conservative MP James Bezan of making "humiliating" comments to her that were unwanted and "sexual in nature."
In the House of Commons after question period Monday, Romanado, rose and said: "In May, the member from Selkirk-Interlake-Eastman publicly made inappropriate, humiliating, and unwanted comments to me that were sexual in nature.”
The Quebec MP said the comments have caused her "great stress" and have negatively impacted her work environment.
Bezan, who represents the Manitoba riding, made an unprompted apology to Romanado earlier in the day.
In his apology in the House of Commons, he admitted to making an "inappropriate and insensitive comment" in Romanado’s presence.
"Earlier this year I made an inappropriate and insensitive comment in the presence of the member for Longeuil-Charles-LeMoyne. I have nothing but the greatest respect for this member, and for this institution, and I sincerely apologize," Bezan said.
In a statement, Bezan said the comments were made at a public event at Ottawa City Hall on May 2, while the two were posing for a photo with another, unnamed person.
That evening, Ottawa City Hall played host to the annual "To the 'Stan and Back" fundraiser for veterans and first responders. The event made headlines at the time because Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, who was scheduled to speak, pulled out amid controversy over comments he made regarding his role in Operation Medusa, a 2006 battle that included Canadian troops in Afghanistan.
While standing for the picture I made an inappropriate and flippant comment by saying, 'this isn’t my idea of a threesome,' which was intended as a partisan comment about being in a photo with a Liberal member of caucus," said Bezan.
"I realized that this comment was inappropriate and attempted to apologize the following day but was not afforded that opportunity," he said.
The Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) received a formal complaint about the incident on May 10, and Bezan said once that was brought to his attention, he sought mediation to apologize. He says that offer was denied.
Upon conclusion of the review of the incident, the CHRO found that the report "did not support a claim of sexual harassment," and no disciplinary action was recommended against Bezan. At this time the file was closed.
"After careful consideration and discussion with the Whip’s office, I have concluded that, since the Final Report did not support a claim of sexual harassment, remedies beyond the recommendation in the report are not required by the Code," said CHRO Pierre Parent in the letter to Bezan, provided to CTV News.
"Subsequently, and with the agreement of the two party Whips in question, I apologized in person to the Member and I also completed sensitivity training offered by the House of Commons," said Bezan.
Romanado, surrounded by Liberal colleagues, declined to comment further when approached by reporters following an evening committee meeting.
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer called the comments "flippant and inappropriate," and said: "Sexual harassment is never acceptable and such behavior is not tolerated in the Conservative Caucus," in an emailed statement.