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Yukon legislature to get policy on sexual harassment

When the new crop of Yukon MLAs are sworn into office following this fall's election, they will likely have a guideline on how to deal with allegations of sexual harassment.

Yukon's legislative assembly currently behind other jurisdictions when it comes to written guidelines

Jessica Lott Thompson, the director of Yukon's Human Rights Commission, says that a sexual harassment policy is coming to the Yukon legislature. (Nancy Thomson/CBC)

When the new crop of Yukon MLAs are sworn into office following this fall's election, they will likely have a guideline on how to deal with allegations of sexual harassment.

Right now, the legislature doesn't have any policy in place to deal with such incidents.

That failing was highlighted this spring, after a member of the public made a complaint about then-Speaker of the Legislature, Dave Laxton.

Laxton subsequently resigned as Speaker, and also from the Yukon Party caucus. He said the woman complained that he had hugged her and kissed her as she was leaving his office.

In July, Jessica Lott Thompson, the director of human rights at the Yukon Human Rights Commission issued a statement, saying her office had helped Laxton and the woman, Michelle Stimson, reach a "mutually agreeable resolution," and that they considered the matter "closed."

Lott Thompson also noted that the members of the legislative assembly didn't have a written policy, adding "that should change."

Lott Thompson says she can't say whether her comment prompted the action, but says a policy is being worked on now. She said other Canadian jurisdictions do have policies, but said the new Yukon policy will be much more inclusive.

"[It] will be broader than any other jurisdiction in the country and more progressive potentially, in that it will include not just relationships between members and other members, or members and staff, but also members and independent individuals who are just part of the public."        

About the Author

Raised in Ross River, Yukon, Nancy Thomson is a graduate of Ryerson University's journalism program. Her first job with CBC Yukon was in 1980, when she spun vinyl on Saturday afternoons. She rejoined CBC Yukon in 1993, and focuses on First Nations issues and politics. You can reach her at nancy.thomson@cbc.ca.