PM Trudeau, Hehr attend harassment session at Liberal convention
HALIFAX -- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and a handful of Liberal MPs, including Kent Hehr, attended a session on preventing sexual harassment in the workplace at the Liberal Party convention.
The closed-door training, titled "From #MeToo, to never again: creating safer work environments" was run by Julie Lalonde, an educator and advocate for bystander intervention.
She ran two sessions during the convention, one in French on Friday and in English on Saturday. She said both were well-attended by a diverse crowd of politicians and staff, including Trudeau's principal secretary Gerald Butts.
Lalonde told CTV News.ca that she was pleased to see the Prime Minister walk in.
"I think it's great that he was here for the hour, he didn’t just show up for five minutes to make an appearance, he showed up and sat in the front row… and he also didn’t put his hand up, which I think is also very telling," she said.
While the sessions were closed to media, Lalonde said that they talked about the systemic nature of sexual violence, and how to combat it. She said they discussed the definition of consent, and how to navigate complex workplace issues, for example: when those that have experienced inappropriate behavior do not want to come forward.
On his way out of the room, Trudeau told reporters: "It's not one group attending one session that's going to make all the difference but it's a step further in the right direction and I'm glad we're having this conversation."
Addressing sexual misconduct and harassment has been a big conversation on Parliament Hill over the last number of months, across party lines.
Hehr resigned from cabinet in January pending the outcome of an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct. On his way into the room he would not comment on the ongoing investigation.
"There's a process in place, and I am grateful for the process, it allows all voices to be heard… until such time that it is completed, I will not be commenting."
Afterwards, Herh said it was an “excellent conversation: “We always have opportunities to learn in life… we always go forward and try to better ourselves.”
Among the caucus members taking part is Nova Scotia MP Darren Fisher, who told reporters on his way in that he was interested in expanding on the training that he received on Parliament Hill.
"The more you can learn the better," he said. On the way out he described the workshop as "overwhelming" but "good."
On Friday, Liberal Whip Pablo Rodriguez told CTV News.ca that 92 per cent of the Liberal caucus have attended the three-hour harassment training session for MPs. He said Trudeau was among the first members to complete the training.
"It says that we’re very aware of the situation," said Manitoba MP Dan Vandal “It says that we’re very aware of the situation,” said Manitoba MP Dan Vandal, when asked what he thought it meant that the Liberal Party was putting on a session of this nature.
Lalonde offered a similar session at the NDP convention in February. She has not received an invitation from the Conservative Party of Canada to run a workshop at their convention in the same location as the Liberals in Halifax in August, but said she’d welcome the opportunity.
“There are a lot of very strong Conservative women and men who want to have this conversation, and so whether it’s through me, or through somebody else, I really welcome them opening up that space at their convention,” Lalonde said.