Saskatchewan’s legislature has a new policy in place to deal with allegations of harassment and sexual harassment between elected officials.
This week, the board of internal economy — an all-party committee that focuses on member-related matters — approved a new policy, which has been in the works for more than two years.
Developing the policy began in the wake of an allegation of harassment between two Ottawa Liberal MPs, according to Speaker of the House Corey Tochor.
“We wanted to have a policy developed for members-to-members to make sure that if someone doesn’t feel like it’s a safe environment, that they have a formal process and they know the rules and the procedures to formulate a complaint.”
He said Manitoba and Nova Scotia are the only other provincial legislatures that have similar policies.
Before now, allegations of harassment were dealt with through individual policies. A government spokesperson said it followed the public service’s commission anti-harassment policy, while the NDP looked to its party constitution.
From now on, a member who feels harassed or sexually harassed by another member, regardless of what party they belong to, is to file a written complaint to a law clerk.
A retired judge will then be asked to investigate the complaint and interview the parties involved.
“It’s important to take the politics out of it,” said Tochor. “This is a very unique work environment and we felt if we went to a third party, independent, retired judge to give us certainty that this is beyond politics.”
‘Leading the nation’
“We are leading the nation, we think, in having the ability to put it to a third party.”
Once the retired judge completes their investigation, they will table a report with recommendations to the all-party committee.
The report will remain confidential if it’s decided the issue(s) can be resolved without discipline, but if it’s determined a member is to be reprimanded, a motion indicating their punishment would be presented to the assembly.
Tochor said discipline could range from being suspended for a period of time to losing their seat.
“It will be up to that member to explain his or her action to the public.”
The name of the complainant will remain confidential as will the nature of the…