NDP MLAs accused of intimidating women in legislature

PC MLA Sarah Guillemard accused three NDP members of targeting and shaming women for voting against a sexual assault bill Thursday.

MLA Sarah Guillemard says three members launched 'verbal attack' on female PCs

Sarah Guillemard accused three NDP MLAs of sexist behaviour during a vote on a bill concerning sexual assault and sexual violence on Thursday. (Gary Solilak/CBC)

A PC MLA says she felt intimidated by three NDP members she says targeted female PCs in a "verbal attack" Thursday morning.

Fort Richmond MLA Sarah Guillemard said James Allum, Rob Altemeyer and Andrew Swan singled out female PC members during a House vote Thursday on a bill about sexual violence. 

Guillemard said the members yelled out "shame" at the women — not the men — of her caucus as they voted against Bill 204, a bill that would have required the disclosure of sexual assaults on Manitoba school campuses.

"The way it made me feel was that we should feel more ashamed of voting against this than the male members of our caucus," Guillemard told reporters Thursday. "I think that that is sad, and it's disappointing."

Guillemard said the comments directed at the female PC MLAs "set an example of intimidation for future votes."

"My privilege as a parliamentarian has been breached and I ask that an apology be offered at the earliest possible opportunity," she told Legislature later Thursday during question period.

NDP MLAs accused of intimidating women in legislature

6 years ago
Duration 2:00
Fort Richmond MLA Sarah Guillemard said James Allum, Rob Altemeyer and Andrew Swan singled out and shamed female PC members during a House vote Thursday.

'I did see it'

NDP MLA Wab Kinew, who put forward the bill as a private member's bill, confirmed Guillemard's description of events when reporters asked for his version of events. 

"In all honesty, yeah. I did see it," he said. "I saw female MLAs being targeted and I'm not going to lie about it, and I stand against misogyny in all forms."

The NDP put out a statement late Thursday afternoon.

"The NDP caucus regrets what occurred during a vote on a bill dealing with sexual assault against women and girls in the House on Thursday," the statement reads.

"We have a collective responsibility to combat sexism and to ensure all women feel safe and respected in their workplace. Our caucus is committed to that fight and will work with all members of the House to achieve that goal."

In the end, the government voted down the bill, 32 to 17, with all opposition members voting for it. 

Tories promise tougher legislation in the works 

The rejected bill would have required Manitoba universities and colleges to disclose sexual assaults on campus and develop sexual violence and sexual harassment policies in consultation with students.

Tories criticized the bill as not being strong enough and say they'll introduce tougher legislation down the line.

Kinew accused the PC government of "playing politics" by voting it down, and said concerns should have been addressed through amendments instead of voting down the bill altogether.

"If the concern was around certain definitions, if the concern was around consultation, send the bill to committee," he said. "Let's have those stakeholders that you want to hear from share their voices at committee. Let's introduce definitions at committee."

"Why didn't that happen?"

House speaker Myrna Dreidger has reserved a decision on the question of the contentious exchange this morning, in order to consult Hansard, the written record of the Chamber.

With files from Sean Kavanagh