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Newfoundland and Labrador PC leadership candidates agree on legislature harassment policy

PC leadership candidates Tony Wakeham (left) and Ches Crosbie.
PC leadership candidates Tony Wakeham (left) and Ches Crosbie. - The Telegram

Crosbie promotes Nova Scotia approach, while Wakeham calls for broader review

With the PC leadership race ongoing and both candidates introducing more on personal positions and policy, Ches Crosbie called Monday morning for a new workplace harassment policy to be introduced for the House of Assembly.

“The only governing conduct for the legislature right now is a code of conduct for employees and, for members, there’s a members’ code of conduct, but I think it’s fair to say they’re pretty weak and fairly vague,” Crosbie told The Telegram Monday afternoon, with his earlier news release circulating.

“Only three legislatures of the 13 provinces and territories have harassment policies in place,” he said.

After a brief review, Crosbie said the Nova Scotia policy appears to be the most well thought out of the existing policies applicable specifically to legislatures and legislators.

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He referred to former Nova Scotia PC party leader Jamie Baillie, who resigned Jan. 24 after an independent investigation concluded he engaged in behaviour that violated the legislature’s workplace harassment policy.

In Baillie’s case, the report from the investigation was disclosed to legal counsel, with the investigation’s conclusions put to the party caucus.

“What it provides for is the making of a complaint and then the authority who receives the complaint ascertains whether the complainant wants to do a formal complaint or whether it could be resolved informally with mediation and processes like that,” Crosbie said of the approach, noting an independent investigator is appointed to give confidence to the process.

“And there are tight timelines, so it doesn’t drag on.”

Crosbie said the introduction of a similar approach in Newfoundland and Labrador could be weighed and addressed by a legislative committee.

Wakeham echoes sentiment

Crosbie’s opponent in the Newfoundland and Labrador PC leadership race, Tony Wakeham, said he fully agrees with what Crosbie has put forward.

Wakeham said he also believes in reviewing harassment policy beyond the House of Assembly.

“I believe everybody deserves to work in an environment that is free from harassment,” he said, adding he knows policies are already in place in government guiding the treatment of employees in the workplace, but he would like to see the existing policy reviewed to assure consistency and strength across the public services.

Wakeham said there is also a need for more, broader discussion in the province about treating each other with mutual respect and equality.

“One such component of that is the way we compensate individuals. There’s been lots of discussion around that,” he said. “I think there’s lots of things we can improve on.”

Wakeham held a town hall meeting in Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s Monday night.

Both candidates are scheduled to be on the road again in short order.

As reported by The Telegram, Premier Dwight Ball says “strengthened and modernized” policies are coming this spring, with existing policies now under review.

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