5 major sexual harassment cases in Canada

Daily Brew
Chairman of the Toronto 2015 Pan-American Games organizing committee, David Peterson gives a speech during the Ceremony of the Ignition of the New Fire, at the ancient pyramids of Teotihuacan outside Mexico City May 25, 2015. The flame will be transferred to Toronto for the Pan-American games, which will be held there from July 10 to 26. REUTERS/Henry Romero

David Peterson, board chair of the Toronto 2015 Pan Am and Parapan American Games, is being sued for sexual harassment — an allegation the former Ontario premier denies.

The allegations follow a year in which a national conversation about sexual harassment had gained new life following a series of high-profile allegations.

The Canadian military, the CBC, and Parliament have all come under fire as members have been accused of sexual misconduct, and all three institutions say they are looking at new ways of dealing with such complaints.

Scott Andrews and Massimo Pacetti

In March 2014, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau evicted MPs Scott Andrews and Massimo Pacetti from the party after seeing an independent report on allegations of their inappropriate behaviour with two female MPs. The pair had been suspended from caucus in November 2014 pending the review.

Andrews allegedly followed an NDP MP after a social event and groped her after forcing his way into her home. In his initial news conference Andrews refused to deny the allegations, citing confidentiality and his unwillingness to turn it into a partisan fight. He is running in the 2015 federal election as an independent candidate.

Massimo Pacetti maintained his innocence following his expulsion from the Liberal caucus. An unnamed MP told media outlets in November 2014 that Pacetti had made unwanted sexual advances in his hotel room and eventually had sex with her without her explicit consent following a sporting event they attended together. Unlike Andrews, Pacetti announced he would be stepping down from politics following the expiration of his term.

Jian Ghomeshi

CBC radio host Jian Ghomeshi was fired in October 2014 amid allegation from numerous women that he sexually assaulted them. The Q host is awaiting trial for a several charges relating to sexual assaults against six women.

In the wake of his firing, former members of his staff came forward with stories of sexual harassment, with some alleging the broadcaster was deaf to their concerns about a toxic and hostile work environment.

Many who complained about Ghomeshis harassment were young, temporary workers for the show, raising questions about the power dynamics present in the CBCs longstanding practice of filling out its staff with significant numbers of contract employees with precarious employment prospects.

Canadian Forces

The Canadian Forces have come under scrutiny in recent years for the treatment of women within their ranks, with the issue garnering headlines in April when a report from a former Supreme Court justice found an environment hostile to womenat all levels of the institution where sexual misconduct is endemic.

Gen. Tom Lawson, the top military officer at the time, accepted Marie Deschampsreport but did not promise to enact its central recommendation, the creation of an independent agency to investigate complaints of sexual harassment and sexual assault.

Lawson himself came under fire when he suggested in an interview that sexual harassment was partially rooted in the biological wiringof young male recruits.

Gen. Jonathan Vance, who took over the top job in July, used his first address at his swearing-in ceremony to promise he will do his best to embrace the Deschamps report and reform the militarys culture. In his first order, the so-called Operation Honour, Vance ordered all senior officers to attend a one-day seminar on sexual misconduct and vowed to implement every one of Deschampsrecommendations.


Weslodge, one of Torontos busiest and most high-profile restaurants, is the subject of a human rights complaint filed in June by a former pastry chef who said she was verbally abused, touched inappropriately and subjected to a sexist and degrading work environment.

Kate Burnham said she was routinely harassed during her 16 months of work at the restaurant and is seeking damages and formal apologies from three of her former bosses. Her statement was supported by other Weslodge employees in witness statement in media reports who said they directly observed the abuse.

The accused chefs have not directly addressed the allegations, but the owners of the restaurant posted a Facebook message saying they do not tolerate any form of workplace harassment and are committed to providing a safe workplace for their employees. They added that their workplace harassment policy is posted on the wall in all of their restaurants, kitchens and staff rooms.

A widely cited study released in October 2014 found that 90 per cent of women in the restaurant industry experience sexual harassment in the workplace.


In 2011, Cpl. Catherine Galliford came forward with allegations of serial sexual harassment and a culture of bullying at a B.C. detachment of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Galliford was the face of the RCMP in the province, working for years as its spokeswoman. She alleged that she faced constant sexual harassment from senior officers from the moment she joined the force after graduating from the RCMP academy in 1991.

Galliford went on sick leave in 2007 because of post-traumatic stress disorder, she said, and told the CBC she can barely leave her home because of agoraphobia brought on by the harassment. In 2012, Galliford filed a lawsuit against the attorney general of Canada over her treatment.

This year, 363 female Mounties from across the country joined a class-action lawsuit against the RCMP, alleging they were the subject of discrimination and harassment. Earlier this year the lawyer who filed the case said he expects the number of plaintiffs to grow as the legal process grinds on. The RCMP has said it does not tolerate harassment and has taken action to address employeesconcerns since Galliford went public with her complaints.