Six members of the National Assembly implicated in cases of harassment, report says

A total of six MNAs or ministers were implicated in cases of psychological harassment, according to the 2020-2021 annual report on activities related to the prevention and treatment of situations of harassment in the workplace at Quebec's National Assembly, which was made public Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot

Despite the rhetoric of our elected officials about zero tolerance, harassment continues to haunt the noble halls and offices of Quebec's legislature.

Once again this year, members of the National Assembly have been the subject of complaints.

A total of six MNAs or ministers were implicated in cases of psychological harassment, according to the 2020-2021 annual report on activities related to the prevention and treatment of situations of harassment in the workplace at the National Assembly, which was made public Tuesday.

In all, 12 people (seven men and five women) have been the subject of a complaint, half of whom are elected officials. The others are members of the administrative staff of the National Assembly.

No elected official has been the subject of a formal complaint of sexual harassment. Last year, there was one.

During the year, a total of three formal complaints of psychological harassment were received and analyzed. One was ruled inadmissible and two complaints are still under investigation. The report does not say anything about the nature of the complaints. A complaint can be about more than one person.

The information in the report is not personally identifiable, making it impossible to identify the perpetrators. For reasons of confidentiality, the National Assembly provides the strict minimum of information on the offenders.

The 11 complainants (seven women and four men) are members of the Assembly's political staff or administrative staff.

Last year, the National Assembly had to deal with 11 formal complaints of psychological harassment, plus one case of sexual harassment.

The harassment prevention policy at the National Assembly was adopted in 2015.

Reports and complaints may come from an office employee (of a minister or MNA) or a member of the institution's staff.

If there is a complaint, the review process is assumed by an external firm, which must assess whether it is admissible. If necessary, an investigation will be ordered.

In addition, now that their mandate is in its third year, all 125 MNAs have finally received the mandatory psychological and sexual harassment prevention training intended for them.

Most have had access to this group training in 2019 or 2020. In the current year, the 19 latecomers (five of whom even received an individual session) also received this training, which lasts only two hours. It will have taken almost three years for all MPs to comply with this requirement.

In May, former minister Marie-Ève Proulx, a CAQ MNA, was forced to leave cabinet following repeated complaints of psychological harassment from former employees.

-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on June 8, 2021. 

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