New sexual harassment policy from P.E.I.'s NDP

Prince Edward Island's New Democratic Party announced their new policy on handling cases of sexual harassment, bullying or discrimination on Friday.

Policy comes in light of the #MeToo movement

Margaret Andrade, NDP president Leah-Jane Hayward and leader Joe Byrne made a joint announcement Friday about the party's new policy on sexual harassment. (CBC)

P.E.I.'s New Democratic Party announced its new policy on handling cases of sexual harassment, bullying or discrimination on Friday.

"We are now able to have a process to follow," said Margaret Andrade, who led the committee which designed it.

The policy expressly deals with any sort of sexual misconduct.

I hope we never have to use it.— Joe Byrne

"This reflects a lot of what the NDP party on the Island would do naturally," Andrade added. 

"We would make certain, regardless of whether this policy was in place, that there was respect and a safe place."

Andrade was joined by party president Leah-Jane Hayward and leader Joe Byrne to make the announcement Friday.

"New Democrats have long had forceful guidelines against intimidation, against any sort of bullying or discriminatory behaviour," said Hayward.

Respect a key theme

"It's about ensuring that members and workers can express their views and do their work with a guarantee of respect and safety."

The document is modelled on the policy of the national NDP.

"It is extensive in the respect for the person that is making the accusation, but also respectful of the accused," said Andrade.

"I think that it is important to understand that this is important for men and women. Harassment can go either way, and both parties will get fair hearing," she said.

More than two months of research went into the development of the policy, which led to its formal adaptation by the provincial branch the group said.

Politics of #MeToo

The party's decision to evaluate its approach to handling cases of sexual harassment, bullying and discrimination came in light of the #MeToo movement in entertainment and politics.

Andrade specified the policy speaks to all matters of harassment or intimidation — not just sexual harassment.

"It's part of the NDP's traditional belief and actions which Canadians know and trust. It's about respect and fairness toward all," said Byrne.

"I would like to see every political party have a process that they're comfortable with, that is clear to the public — this is how we are going to deal with allegations and complaints," Byrne said.

"The clarification sends out a clear message to all of us, saying it's not just about unity, it is about setting the tone."

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Nakshi is a reporter with CBC News, currently in Charlottetown. She has previously worked in WInnipeg, St. John's and Toronto.