Thomas Mulcair vs. Justin Trudeau: Political entrapment?

Recently, several women have come forward to bring charges against Canada’s well-know CBC radio host Jian Ghomeshi for sexual harassment in the workplace. As a result of the Jian Ghomeshi sexual harassment scandal, CBC has suspended Jian Ghomeshi and has formally requested that a law suit by him against the CBC for wrongful termination be dismissed as being unfounded and an abuse of the court system.
Is Gian Ghomeshi sexual harassment scandal a good thing?

Is the Gian Ghomeshi sexual harassment scandal a good thing?

It is hard to believe that the current scandal regarding Jian Ghomeshi’s alleged sexual harassment towards several women who have come forward could be a good thing.

It is a good thing, and here’s why…

Although the current climate in workplaces is governed by attitudes, processes and responses regarding sexual abuse, there are other forms of abuse that need to be addressed more forthrightly as well, workplace bullying and workplace mobbing to name just two.

This high profile harassment incident has put the corporate environment under the microscope and the handling of the situation and charges is being closely scrutinized by all. In light of this heightened sensitivity and scrutiny, the Liberal party of Canada today suspended two MP’s after two NDP MP’s came forward alleging harassment. To his credit Justin Trudeau publicly gave the benefit of the doubt to the complainants and suspended those charged pending investigation. We need to see more of this in all workplaces of all sizes, business types, and work environments, as well as consequences put in place to deal with those proven to have made false accusations.

I have had my own experience with workplace bullying and mobbing that has had a particularly disastrous affect on me, my family and my career. The result of my battle was a complete mental breakdown and an ongoing battle with depression, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, agoraphia, and OCD. I am now unemployable, cannot leave my own home, and suffer anxiety attacks of varying degrees. Although at first I thought I might be able to work at home, I’ve since had to refuse a work at home job I was offered because I just couldn’t overcome the disability to take it on. I now depend on daily doses of five medications and migraine medication on occasion to manage my condition.

In my case, I delayed bringing formal charges against a fellow employee who had been bullying me at work for a prolonged period until it was just too much and I had a mental and emotional breakdown. Not pursuing this further despite the fact that I had reported it several times to my manager was at my request because I wanted to try and work things out, but once I did formally report it to upper management, which in the end I had to do, the burden should have been lifted from me and firmly placed on management to manage the circumstances and investigate, taking punitive action if necessary.

I was treated as the one being investigated.

I was verbally reprimanded more than once for being too sensitive throughout the bullying period. Once reported by me, management insisted we go through arbitration and although I was open to it at first, I quickly realized it was one of the biggest mistakes I’ve ever made. There was a fatal flaw in arbitration with regard to a bullying situation. For the arbitration to work, it requires either the offender to admit their actions, or the complainant to back down from their charges and take part in cooperative dialogue. Ultimately, although arbitration may work well in a general dispute situation, in a bullying situation, it becomes a tool of intimidation against the complainant. Because I refused to give credence to any of the false statements made by the offender, I was accused of being uncooperative and asked to leave. My advice is, if you’re in any kind of formal harassment situation at work, never agree to arbitration. Insist on following formal procedures and having the harassment allegations independently investigated.

Rather than removing the offender from the work environment, I had to be removed because a large portion of the others were in her profession and closer to her. I was just a lowly ‘Assistant.’ They didn’t hesitate to make their judgments and rally around her, causing the environment to change from one of bullying to one of workplace mobbing. Thank heaven for the few who were well aware of the circumstances and sought to treat me normally – especially one in particular who went far out of her way to help me out.

I suffered major career implications as a result of this bullying and mobbing. I was suffering all of the ailments mentioned above to varying degrees and dealing with increased migraines due to the stress. I have been a lifelong migraine sufferer and my employer(s) refused to accept this as a valid disability that should be accommodated as other disabilities are. Instead, I was penalized for time lost at work due to migraines, and I was denied promotions and lateral transfers to a healthier work environment due to my manager repeatedly falsely referring to me as having a problem with absenteeism, rather than describing my ailment as it was – a disability. I had made every effort to work the time lost on other days. I never expected time off for free. My employer refused to be flexible and allow me to work off the missed hours, instead placing pressure on me to work while suffering migraines, making me more vulnerable to the stress and health consequences.

The sad thing is I had been advised a year previously by my doctor to take a leave of absence from work due to stress and I refused, stating that we ‘could not afford it’ and ‘I wanted to work things out.’

Boy, was I naive!

Although I doubt taking the leave would have changed the career implications without a proper investigation into the bullying, at least I might not have suffered such devastating personal medical and mental health consequences.

I, the complainant, was basically steamrolled or outright ignored, and that’s just not right!

One last observation is that it is rather interesting to me that it seems that the larger corporate, government and civil service environments are rife with these situations. My harassment having occurred while working with Corrections Canada at a local prison, I can say it was common knowledge that our employer did not deal well or honestly with harassment victims, therefore seriously discouraging us from coming forward.

I’d like nothing better than to see a system in place where these cases are dealt with fairly and this doesn’t happen to any other workplace harassment victims.

I will say this, though! Justin Trudeau has won my vote solely because he had the integrity to put the victim first and suspend those being charged – unlike the Conservatives in several of their own political and fiscal scandals.

photo credit: quinn.anya via photopin cc

UPDATE: Thursday, November 7, 2014.

Yesterday, the news of the day centered around Tom Mulcair’s accusations against Justin Trudeau for supposedly breaching the privacy of the victims in this matter by suspending the MP’s. There was no breach and Justin Trudeau’s actions should be applauded.

Here’s why:

  • His statement was written solely to inform the public about the MP’s suspensions, never mentioning names, gender, political affiliation, or relationship to the accused.
  • One of the two victims (still unnamed) approached Justin Trudeau directly with the complaint without qualifying what he/she was saying or how it should be handled.
  • By approaching the leader of the party directly, there is an expectation that action would be taken by the party leader.
  • This was a horrible ‘no win’ situation for Mr. Trudeau as I’m sure Mr. Mulcair would have condemned his actions as a ‘cover up’ had he not acted.
  • He made the right choice and although some may disagree, I know he just went up a great deal in the estimation of Canadians who have experienced sexual and/or workplace harassment.

Mr. Mulcair, on the other hand, is receiving criticism from the general public and the media for turning this into a public tongue lashing of Justin Trudeau, and making himself look like an opportunistic, partisan politician who would have taken advantage of the situation no matter how Mr. Trudeau chose to act.

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