Parliamentary security force seeks harassment investigators after case backlog

The Canadian Press
July 31, 2018
Written by The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — Parliament's security force says it's dealt with multiple harassment complaints and now it's hiring outside investigators to ensure it can manage future cases.

The Parliamentary Protective Service sets out its need for third-party help in a publicly posted contract tender that also says the force dealt with a backlog of cases earlier this year.

The security force recently had a "significant number of active, formal harassment complaints," according to the tender document. These have since all been dealt with, but third-party investigators are needed to guard against future backlogs, a spokesman for the security force says.

While there are no longer any outstanding cases, there's a need to ensure the organization is equipped to deal with future cases in a timely manner, said Joseph Law, chief of staff to the director of the Parliamentary Protective Service.

"The reason why we are going with that (request for proposal) is because we need to be able to have our own list of vendors that we can rely on for third-party investigation," he said.

"The problem that there was a little bit of backlog was we didn't have our own list. We were depending on the House of Commons, we were depending on other vendors, but this kind of streamlines the administrative process."
 
Law said he could not disclose the specific nature or the number of harassment cases that led to the previous backlog, citing privacy concerns.
 
The security force has been following harassment prevention policies developed by the House of Commons and the Senate, which call for a third-party investigator. However, the force sought outside help because it doesn't have internal resources dedicated specifically to implement these policies or to conduct third-party investigations.

It's in the process of finalizing its own harassment prevention policy, which is expected to be ready for implementation later this year.

A report tabled in Parliament last month revealed that 35 harassment cases were brought to the attention of the House of Commons' human resources officer over the past year — the majority of which were inquiries only.

Three cases of harassment were formally investigated, two of which involved cases of sexual harassment while the other was classified as "mixed" in the report. Only one of the investigated cases was deemed substantiated, one was ruled unsubstantiated and one was deemed partially substantiated.

No names or identifying information were included in the report.

Allegations of harassment have been levelled against several current and former MPs over the last year.

— Teresa Wright

News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc. 2018

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