Tag Archive: sexual harassment

My latest: when zero tolerance doesn’t mean zero

Zero tolerance. 

That’s what he said.  Those are the words he used. 

Justin Trudeau has said, many times, that he and his party have “zero tolerance” for sexual harassment and sexual misconduct. 

As recently as 2018, he gave inspiring interviews to Canadian Press and CBC about the subject.  Here’s what he said. 

“We have no tolerance for this — we will not brush things under the rug, but we will take action on it immediately,” he declared to The Canadian Press, describing how his political party and government regard sexual harassment. 

He said the same sort of thing to CBC Radio in an interview around the same time.  There, the self-proclaimed Feminist Prime Minister proclaimed: “I’ve been very, very careful all my life to be thoughtful, to be respectful of people’s space and people’s headspace as well.”

He respects your headspace, our Prime Minister does.  So, as if to emphasize the point, he noted he had earlier banished a pair of Liberal MPs for alleged sexual impropriety. 

In 2014, he expelled two MPs from the Liberal caucus — Scott Andrews and Massimo Pacetti — before he told them why.  An investigation came later, and it determined that Andrews had indeed engaged in harassing behaviour (groping and grinding), while Pacetti was found to have had having sex with someone (without explicit consent). 

So far so good.  We don’t need sexual creeps and crawlies in our lives.  We particularly don’t need them in Canadian public life.  Well done, Trudeau. 

And then, two years ago this week, this writer received a message from a female Member of Parliament.  One who really was a feminist, and one who had female friends in all of the political parties in the Hill. 

“Have you seen the story about Trudeau groping a reporter in BC?” she said.  “It happened years ago, but still.”

I had not, I told her.  The Liberal Party’s “zero tolerance” policy was a hot topic, that June, because of a controversy swirling around Liberal cabinet member Kent Hehr.  An Alberta woman, Kristin Raworth, had tweeted to me vague allegations of sexual impropriety by Hehr, who was and is a quadriplegic. 

Hehr properly removed himself from cabinet while an investigation was underway.  He later lost his Calgary seat in the 2019 election.  (Tellingly, perhaps, Raworth was later obliged to apologize, retract, and pay substantial damages for false allegations – “he hit his wife” – she made against this writer in March.)

But two years ago, the Kent Hehr story had made sexual harassment stories big news.  Me Too, too. 

And a Member of Parliament had just told me Justin Trudeau had groped a reporter in BC.  She had the article, she said.  She sent it to me. 

It was an editorial, unsigned, from the Creston Valley Advance.  It was easy to determine who the author was, but I would not name her (and have never named her).  I posted a screenshot of the editorial, the reporter’s name on the Advance’s masthead removed.  Apart from asking “what?” in the title of the post, I said nothing else. 

The editorial was titled “Open Eyes.”  The author stated that Trudeau had groped her, quote unquote, at a beer festival in 2000.  Trudeau had “inappropriately handled the reporter,” the editorial read, while she was in assignment for the Advance as well as the National Post. 

When confronted about his actions – which, in many other cases, would be regarded as a sexual assault – Trudeau offered an explanation, not a real apology.  “I’m sorry,“ he said.  “If I had known you were reporting for a national paper, I would have never been so forward.”

Meaning: you’re fair game, woman, if you’re reporting for a small paper. 

When I posted the screenshot of the editorial, it went viral, as they say.  It became international news.  When Trudeau – now a Prime Minister – finally deigned to respond, he offered up an explanation that has since become an object of ridicule.  There hadn’t been a “negative interaction,” he said, although the editorial certainly suggested that was not the case. 

Said Trudeau about his victim: “Who knows where her mind was, and I fully respect her ability to experience something differently.”

Implying the victim had some unnamed mental instability, and declaring that she experienced sexual assault “differently” doesn’t sound terribly feminist, does it?  But Justin Trudeau survived the scandal.  He was re-elected. 

Two years later, the issue is back.  This time, a Liberal backbencher is facing assault, break and enter, and criminal harassment charges from 2015.  A woman is among the victims.

And Trudeau knew all about it.  The allegations were substantiated by an internal Liberal Party probe, the CBC revealed this week. 

But Trudeau let the backbencher run under his party’s banner anyway.  Trudeau signed the MP’s nomination papers.  

We could go on, but – by now – you get the point.  And the point is this. 

When Justin Trudeau said he had a “zero tolerance” policy, he didn’t actually mean there was “zero tolerance” for sexual misconduct. 

He meant there was literally zero that he wouldn’t tolerate.


Because it’s 2020

On sexual assault, and sexual harassment, Justin Trudeau is not to be believed. He just isn’t.

But will some self-described Liberal “feminists” go on TV and defend it? You know they will.

Member of Parliament Marwan Tabbara — who is expected to appear in court today to face assault and criminal harassment charges — was approved to run for the Liberals in the 2019 federal election despite a party investigation into allegations of sexual harassment made against him during his last mandate, CBC News has learned.

The Liberals looked into detailed allegations of misconduct made against the Kitchener South-Hespeler MP that included inappropriate touching and unwelcome sexual comments directed at a female staffer, according to sources with knowledge of the allegations. The allegations date back to the 2015 election campaign, the source said.

The sources who spoke to CBC News requested anonymity, citing the risk of being blacklisted within Liberal circles and it negatively impacting their careers.

CBC News has confirmed the party’s internal investigation determined that some of the allegations were substantiated, but has not been able to learn whether Tabbara faced any consequences.

Despite Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s zero-tolerance policy on sexual misconduct in the workplace, the party approved Tabbara as a Liberal candidate last year.


Who won and lost the French-language debate

Who won? The separatist guy, Yves-Francois Blanchet. He was calm, he was cool and he was collected. He totally dominated.

Who lost? Justin Trudeau. He needed to remind everyone that that hopey-changey guy from 2015 is still around. He didn’t, because he isn’t.  (And he was clobbered on one key point.  More on that in a minute.)

Who won a silver? Jagmeet Singh. His French was better than expected, and he played the class-warfare card expertly.

Who barely won a French-language bronze – but seized an English-language gold? Andrew Scheer, with a caveat, which is also discussed below. Because, while he may not have won the French debate in French Canada – his equivocation on abortion was pretty bad – Scheer definitely won a French-language debate in English Canada.  (I will explain.)

Anyway. Here’s my caveat about Scheer, who as I say won the debate outside Quebec, partly because no one watched it outside Quebec.

In a leaders’ debate, you need to make certain that your story that dominates. Here’s why: no matter how nice your opponent looks — no matter how articulate, no matter how charming — he or she can’t win if your message is the dominant theme of the night.

Like Andrew Scheer’s attack on Justin Trudeau’s two campaign planes. Because it (a) exposed Trudeau to be a hypocrite (b) it made him look vain (because he uses the second plane for his “canoes and costumes,” as Scheer quipped) and (c) it was the dominant theme in all the subsequent coverage in English Canada, and the Tories had graphics and ads ready to go to ensure that it dominated.  It reminded me of what Jack Layton did to Michael Ignatieff in another debate, with devastating results.

Televised leaders’ debates show us all why having the dominant narrative is so crucial. TV debates give candidates a chance to stress basic campaign themes, and in front of what is usually the biggest audience of the campaign. They also let candidates depict their opponents’ campaign message in an unflattering way. But contrary to what some media pundits claim, debates are not about defining moments.

Debates are about ratifying your side’s issues — and the issues in the campaign — and looking good at the same time. They’re not about defeating the opposition’s claims, proving something, or answering reporters’ questions, either. They’re about getting your story — your spin, your message — heard by as many people as possible. Full stop.

Now, keep in mind that last night’s debate is not going to change voters’ minds about the key issues. Most of them have their minds made up by now. But in a tight race, like this one, debates can make a huge difference.

The most successful presidential and prime ministerial performers enter debates with a single clear message they wish to get across — and they use questions and interruptions to return to, or highlight, their single key message. As Dick Morris told me once, a simple way to measure success is to count the number of debate minutes devoted to your key messages (eg. for a progressive, health or the environment) and not the opposition’s (eg. for a conservative, tax cuts or “getting tough on crime”). You win when your story has taken up the greatest number of minutes. Before they head off to bed, you want the people who tuned in to conclude that your guy or gal is humble, energetic, trustworthy, passionate, positive — and that he or she is “fighting for me.”

Losing, on the other hand, is easy. If a liberal guy or gal performs well on an issue like “getting tough on crime,” and the other side doesn’t, it doesn’t matter that the liberal did a fabulous job presenting his or her case and sounded like the best debater in the history of planet Earth. The “getting tough on crime” issue is their issue. The other side will always sound more credible when the subject matter is their issue.

Anyway: facts tell, stories sell. And when you’ve got a winning story, stick to it. Don’t talk about the other guy’s story.

The plane thing is a winning story. It hurt Trudeau, big time.


Patrick Brown, P.I. (updated)

Welcome to today’s class in how not to do P.R., folks.  Today’s case study is Patrick Brown, former leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

Three weeks ago, CTV  broadcast a report that Brown had engaged in graphic sexual misconduct with two very young women.  He denied the allegations of the two young women, but he stepped down a few hours after the CTV report.

His party started a leadership race to replace him.  All of the candidates seem to be a lot more popular than he was.

Three weeks after he resigned, Brown hired a PR firm and started a media tour.  He attacked the young women who made the allegations against him.  The two young women doubled down on their stories, refusing to back off.

I have been told by CTV folks that Brown has not taken steps to sue them or his accusers.  And he’s rapidly running out of time to do so.  In my view, until he serves a Libel Notice, I don’t give a rat’s ass about whatever he has to say.  It’s all spin or bullshit, at this point.

Oh, and this: Patrick Brown has hired private investigators. (UPDATE: These guys, I’m told.)

I found that out on-air, on CFRA on Monday afternoon.  I was on Evan Solomon’s show with Karl Belanger and Alise Mills when Alise said she was working with Brown, and that he had hired private investigators.  Here’s what she said: “Patrick has hired someone to do the forensics, a P.I., he’s got a very strong legal team.”

That was news.

Evan and I started questioning Alise, who I know to be an honest person.  She didn’t walk back her statement.  She stood by it.

To repeat: Patrick Brown has hired private investigators to do “forensics.”  Forensics are defined  as “scientific tests or techniques used in connection with the detection of crime.”

So, whose crime?  And who are they investigating?  There are only three possibilities, because there are only three groups of participants in this sordid tale.

  1. One possibility is Patrick Brown has hired private investigators to do “forensics” on him.  Given that he’s the client, this isn’t highly likely.
  2. Another possibility is that Patrick Brown has hired private investigators to discredit the CTV team who worked on this story.  I’ve been told by two sources at CTV that they think P.I. types are indeed following them around.
  3. The only other possibility is that Patrick Brown has hired private investigators to discredit and attack the two young women who made the allegations in the first place.

Those are the only possibilities.  If it’s either 2 or 3, it is big, big news: a sitting member of the provincial legislature has hired private investigators to go after the media and two young women who claim to have been sexually assaulted. (Another possibility: he’s investigating other MPPs: but that would be a clear violation of their Parliamentary privilege.)

Anyway. If the above is true – if what Alise Mills revealed on Monday is indeed the case – I do not see how Patrick Brown can be permitted to retain his seat.

Digging up dirt on reporters, doing their jobs?  Digging up dirt on alleged victims of sexual assault? Digging up dirt on fellow MPPs?

That’s not the kind of person we need in our provincial parliament.


“I find you so pretty” – senior PMO director to young woman looking for a job

This is wild.  Wild.

Look at the message Myriam Denis, an experienced and bilingual communicator with a Liberal pedigree, got from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Deputy Director of Operations:

“I find you very pretty,” he says.  One of the most senior unelected officials in the federal government, sending messages like that, not even bothering to hide his identity.

That’s not all: Ms. Denis – who I have never met – was being hit on by a guy who worked for Bardash Chagger, presently the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons.  That guy, an advisor to Chagger, allegedly put his hand on Ms. Denis’ thigh when they met to discuss a job opening.  She says he told her she had “a nice bikini body.”

After all this outrageous behaviour by two senior men in the Trudeau government – two men who, coincidentally, had both worked for Melanie Joly – Myriam Denis did not get the job.  She did, however, complain to Chagger’s Chief of Staff, a woman (thankfully).  The chief of Staff took her complaint seriously, it seems.

But get this: right after Ms. Denis wrote briefly on Facebook briefly about getting hit on by a senior Trudeau operative, she heard from another Trudeau guy.  He told her that he “handles [human relations] in the Prime Minister’s office.”  That’s a quote.

Except he didn’t.  The Claude-Eric Gagné investigation was being handled by an outside, arms-length law firm.  Not someone who worked within PMO.  (Oh, and the guy’s title was “Director of Administration and Special Projects.”  Not HR.)  So: one of Gagné’s fellow directors at PMO seemed to be falsely claiming to be “handling” sexual harassment cases like Ms. Denis’.

Was he truly contacting her to help? Or was it just to cover it all up?

She is the victim, here, and should have the final word, and you should read every word:

This is wrong on so many levels. Even if he was truly the HR person in the PMO, it would be extremely inappropriate for him to be contacting potential victims when there was an ongoing examination by a third-party investigator.

Until the moment I received the Facebook message from Brett Thalmann, I was willing to believe that Vidah and Gagné were just two cases of “bad apples” within a big organization. I am not so sure anymore. This third strange experience makes me think that it might be more than a few isolated incidents of reprehensible behaviours.

I feel a lot of sadness and empathy for the women who are currently working [in Justin Trudeau’s PMO].


#MeToo, #cdnpoli and #questions – UPDATED TWICE

Timing is everything, in comedy and in politics.

Late on a Friday – just as Maclean’s was breaking a huge story about the Harper Conservatives knowing that they had a candidate accused of sexual assault, and let him run for them anyway – the government let slip that the Deputy Director of Operations in the Prime Minister’s Office was no longer employed there.

Rule of thumb: when (a) a government, any government, quietly releases something (b) on a Friday (c) in the evening, it is usually meaningful.

This Gagné fellow was pretty senior.  In any PMO, only the Chief of Staff, the Principal Secretary, the Director of Comms and the Director of Operations are more senior.  An Ops director will generally have more power than any ministerial Chief of Staff, or most members of cabinet.

Some of what there is to know about Monsieur Gagné, and his alleged behaviour, is starting to trickle out – as one brave woman is suggesting, here.

Many questions remain.  There’s no question, however, that #MeToo isn’t winding up on Parliament Hill.

As Friday’s late-breaking stories suggest, it’s just getting started.

UPDATE: Right after the above post went up, some anonymous person(s) started to email the pleadings in my divorce to Ottawa reporters.  Now, why do you think that is happening?  And which political team do you think might be doing it, eh?

Ottawa sure is a nice town.

UPDATE TWO: Oh look: now they have updated my Wikipedia page to say I abused and neglected my children. A Teksavvy customer in Ottawa did it. From a friend: “To reiterate, the edit came from a computer on a DSL network associated with TekSavvy customer assigned address 23-233-60-119.cpe.pppoe.ca at 7:01pm EST Saturday February 3 2018 in the World Exchange Plaza, likely at one of the lobby firms there.”