Canadian Press Story of the Year: sexual harassment

The Canadian Press annual survey saw 23 out of 80 votes cast for sexual harassment as the most compelling story of the year

The public conversation on sexual harassment and assault sparked by the allegations against Hollywood giant Harvey Weinstein and the #metoo hashtag that saw Canadians of all walks of life share stories of misconduct has been selected as Canada’s News Story of the Year for 2017.

The Canadian Press annual survey of news editors and reporters from across the country saw 23 out of 80 votes cast for sexual harassment as the most compelling story of the year, with the ongoing fentanyl crisis coming in second with 18 votes.

“No other story this year seems to permeate everyday life for men and women across the social spectrum,” said Joshua Freeman, web journalist for the Toronto TV station CP24.

“It cuts to the way that men and women interact with one another on a daily basis and raises questions about how far we think we’ve come versus where we actually are when it comes to sexism, professionalism, and our ability to navigate our own sexual impulses with maturity,” he said.

#MeToo at work: An in-depth look at sexual harassment in the B.C. workplace

Darren Krause, managing editor of Metro Calgary, said the issue could be “the news story of the decade.”

“While it started in 2017, I think it will be one of the most reported issues in 2018,” he wrote.

The allegations that emerged this fall against Weinstein, an Oscar-winning film producer, opened a floodgate of similar accusations that spread to Canada and affected virtually every industry, from the arts and sports to politics and law enforcement.

Several powerful men, including Gilbert Rozon, the founder of the Just For Laughs comedy festival and Sportsnet baseball analyst Gregg Zaun, were fired or stepped down from their positions amid allegations of sexual of sexual misconduct, many of them dating back years.

Rozon did not comment on the allegations, while Zaun, who lost his job after multiple female Sportsnet employees complained about his inappropriate behaviour in the workplace, said he “naively” believed his language was not offensive.

As the list of allegations grew, many institutions raced to tackle sexual harassment in their ranks.

The union for Canada’s TV and film performers said it would expedite its discipline processes for sexual harassment and assault complaints, while the federal government announced it was embarking on a regulatory overhaul to crack down on harassment in federal workplaces.

The year also saw police forces across the country, including the RCMP, review how they handle sexual assault complaints after it was revealed that many were dismissed as unfounded. As a result, several forces reopened cases that had previously been written off.

“Whether it’s through the #metoo movement here as well as in the U.S., the tidal wave that we’ve seen has been second to none in terms of women being able to come forward, women using their voices,” said Paulette Senior, president and CEO of the Canadian Women’s Foundation.

The swell of stories shared by famous and non-famous women alike has helped show the pervasiveness of a problem that has always been difficult to quantify due to low reporting rates, Senior said.

That, in turn, has brought a “sea change” in the conversation around sexual harassment and assault, with complainants more likely to be believed now than they would have been even a few months ago, she said.

The task for 2018 will be to capitalize on that momentum to bring about systemic change, she said.

“We can’t assume that because the conversation is happening, that that means that change is going to happen,” she said. ”So it’s about acting now, from conversation to actually making decisions and enacting those decisions.”

Sandra Cohen-Rose, president of the National Council of Women of Canada, said stamping out sexual harassment and assault will mean tackling economic imbalances and other mechanisms that leave women vulnerable to abuses of power.

“Everybody’s looking for a magic bullet that works and there just isn’t (one),” she said.

Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

 

Just Posted

Order in the chambers: Qualicum Beach votes for council code of conduct

Coun. Robert Filmer’s motion passes unanimously at town meeting

Rainbow crosswalk in Qualicum Beach covered in mysterious black substance

‘It was disappointing to see this act of disrespect take place inside our community’

Oceanside RCMP hunt for man after pair of indecent exposure incidents

Elderly woman grabbed by man who had been masturbating in the woods

Nanoose Bay’s Northwest Bay Road again open to the public

Single-lane alternating traffic expected to stretch into September

New police force in Surrey must avoid VPD, RCMP errors made in Pickton case: Oppal

Boots are scheduled to be on the ground by spring 2021

Striking Western Forest Products workers could lose benefits in September

Union, forest company at odds over Vancouver Island benefit payments as strike enters third month

Conan turns to the Property Brothers for tips on buying Greenland

Jonathan Scott suggests removing glaciers and mountains to bring in ‘more natural light’

Forests minister visits B.C. town rocked by multiple mill shutdowns

A third of Mackenzie turns out for rally, not much to cheer about

B.C. sockeye returns drop as official calls 2019 ‘extremely challenging’

Federal government says officials are seeing the same thing off Alaska and Washington state

B.C. music teacher accused of sexual misconduct involving girls

Police believe other victims could be out there after the arrest of Lamar Victor Alviar

B.C. family stranded in Croatia desperate to come home

Funds being raised to bring back mom and two children

Most Read