PEI

Political parties need sexual harassment policies, says P.E.I. group

After three male political leaders from across the country resigned their positions this week, a P.E.I. group wants to see more done to eliminate sexual harassment in politics.

Time is right as country reacts to #MeToo movement, says P.E.I. Coalition for Women in Government

Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown resigned this week after two women came forward with allegations of sexual misconduct. Brown 'categorically' denies the allegations. (Aaron Vincent Elkaim/Canadian Press)

After three male political leaders from across the country resigned their positions this week, a P.E.I. group wants to see more done to eliminate sexual harassment in politics.

The leaders of the Progressive Conservative parties in Ontario and Nova Scotia both resigned their positions this week, as did federal Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities Kent Hehr, an Alberta MP. All of them stepped down after facing allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct.

With an ongoing national conversation about sexual harassment, it's the perfect time time for provincial parties to create codes of conduct around sexual harassment, says Dawn Wilson, the executive director of the P.E.I. Coalition for Women in Government.

"What we've learned through activists and the Me Too movement is that often [sexual harassment] occurs within places where power is at play, and that includes politics," she told Louise Martin, host of CBC News: Compass. "So I'm not surprised to see cases come forward. However, it is disappointing."

Having more women in the legislature would bring more attention to issues facing women, such as sexual harassment, says Dawn Wilson.

Political parties need to create policies to combat sexual harassment and make safe and welcoming environments for women, Wilson said.

"Political parties need to be ready to respond and address those concerns," she said.

"Even when parties have good policies in place, they must remain vigilant and review those policies to make sure that they are meeting the needs that they were intended to address."

Hoping more women run for office

She noted only three of the 13 provinces and territories have a code of conduct in place in their legislatures and encourages P.E.I. to create one.

Wilson also wants to see parties nominate more women in the next provincial election to diminish the gender disparity in P.E.I.'s government.

"Our hope is that this will be a moment that galvanizes women to run in larger numbers than they have in the past."

With files from CBC News: Compass

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