Conservative MP Karen Vecchio says she faced harassment on Parliament Hill
'I directly went to the whip, and I dealt with it through mediation,' London-area MP says
On the same day the federal government released a report on harassment in Canadian workplaces, a Conservative MP says she experienced intimidation on Parliament Hill and that she complained to senior officials.
Karen Vecchio told CBC News she faced harassment from an MP after she witnessed a sexist remark directed at her colleague, Dianne Watts, earlier this year. Watts has since left federal politics to run for the B.C. Liberal leadership.
Vecchio went to then-Conservative whip Gord Brown who informed his Liberal counterpart, Pablo Rodriguez, who initiated mediation.
The London, Ont.-area MP would not say who she accused of harassment as she wanted to respect the confidentiality of the process.
"It was an incident that happened that wasn't totally personal, but became personal after, and then I went through the process of what we do here as MPs. I directly went to the whip, and I dealt with it through mediation, which I think is the proper way to deal with things," she said in an interview on Parliament Hill on Thursday.
"I got my point across about what my limitations were, and we have a very good relationship now," she said. "I was very fine with the way it was dealt with. I think what I've done is established a limit for that member to know what the right and wrong is."
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The incident stems from an event earlier this year when Liberal MP Nicola Di Iorio and Watts were attending an in-camera committee meeting. Watts's cellphone rang, prompting Di Iorio to say: "Where's your pole to slide down on?"
Watts took the comment to mean a stripper pole and issued a statement days later saying that the comment was inappropriate and left her feeling uncomfortable. Vecchio said she witnessed those remarks.
Di Iorio later apologized publicly in the House of Commons.
"The words I used were not meant to offend her, or embarrass her, and if that was the case I was profoundly sorry," Di Iorio said. "I offered her my deepest apologies."
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday, when asked about incident, that no workplace is free of harassment.
"I am proud that, as a government, we are putting forward a number of processes, a number of processes to deal with complaints around behaviours, that is increasingly followed," he said.
"This particular case, they went through the processes led by our party whip and we need to ensure that everyone understands that the way we deal with this in Parliament, matters to the tone we set for the entire country," he said.
- An earlier version of this story incorrectly states that Dianne Watts is running for mayor in Surrey, B.C. She is actually running for the B.C. Liberal leadership.Nov 02, 2017 5:30 PM ET
With files from the CBC's Julie Van Dusen