The party of political correctness doesn't "currently have a comprehensive, explicit, and formal harassment policy" - this, according to a recent motion drafted by the New Democrat's women's rights committee. So the committee is calling on the party to adopt a policy that would apply to "harassment around issues of race (i.e. comments, slurs and jokes), politics, religion, sexual orientation, physical or mental abilities as well as sexual harassment (unwanted attention of a sexual nature such as remarks about appearance or personal life, graffiti or degrading pictures, physical contact or sexual demands)." A vote on the motion will be held at the New Democrat's upcoming provincial council meeting, set for this coming weekend. In an interview, party president Jeff Fox said he was surprised the party didn't already have a harassment policy and would be looking into whether that is actually the case. A version of this article was originally published in today's edition of 24 hours. The following is a complete copy of that motion, which was leaked to Public Eye.
Submitted by WRC
Date August 25, 2005
Whereas harassment should neither be tolerated nor condoned by any progressive organization; and
Whereas the BC NDP does not currently have a comprehensive, explicit, and formal harassment policy;
Therefore be it resolved that the BC NDP adopt the following policy to be distributed at all NDP meetings, conventions and conferences:
The BC New Democratic Party wishes to provide a harassment-free environment at all BCNDP activities.
Interaction among New Democrats must be based on mutual respect, cooperation and understanding. Harassment creates feelings of uneasiness, humiliation and discomfort.
The BC NDP will neither tolerate nor condone any behaviour which is likely to undermine the dignity or self-esteem of an individual, or create an intimidating or offensive environment.
For the purpose of this policy, harassment can be defined as any unwelcome action by any person whether verbal or physical, on a single or repeated basis, which ridicules, humiliates, insults or degrades.
"Unwelcome" or "unwanted" in this context means any action which the harasser knows or ought reasonably to know is not desired by the victim of the harassment.
The policy encompasses, but is not limited to, harassment around issues of race (i.e. comments, slurs and jokes), politics, religion, sexual orientation, physical or mental abilities as well as sexual harassment (unwanted attention of a sexual nature such as remarks about appearance or personal life, graffiti or degrading pictures, physical contact or sexual demands).
Our principles as New Democrats prohibit us from infringing on the human rights of others, and oblige us to stand with those whose rights are under attack in order to defend those rights for all of us.
The BC NDP considers harassment of any kind a serious offence. Complaints of harassment should be reported to an appointed harassment officer or staff person at the activity where the harassment occurs to be investigated in an expeditious manner. A substantiated complaint may result in the removal of the harasser from the event.
Therefore be it further resolved that the BC NDP adopt the following Harassment Policy Investigation Protocol, to be distributed with the above policy:
Complaints of harassment at activities of the BC NDP will be investigated in an expeditious manner.
Depending on the circumstances of the event or meeting, complaints of the harassment will be referred to either an appointed harassment officer or a staff person at the event where the harassment occurred. At events where there are only staff members but no appointed harassment officers, the staff person will have the authority to act alone under this policy. Where possible, there will be harassment officers appointed from amongst both staff and membership, and they will be jointly responsible for the enforcement of the policy.
It will be their responsibility to receive the complaint, to investigate it as soon as reasonably possible, given the nature of the complaint and the event. They will make every effort to corroborate the allegation, if it was witnessed. If in their judgment the complaint is founded, they will take suitable remedial action.
In pursuing an allegation of harassment, the investigators will ensure that the investigation is conducted according to the norms of natural justices. Confidentiality and the rights of all members concerned will be respected.
The subject of a complaint has the right to know the nature of the complaint and to make reasonable explanation or defense.
In investigating the complaint, the harassment officer and/or staff person will determine, where appropriate, whether the complainant made it known to the subject of the complaint that the behaviour in question was unacceptable or unwelcome.
In seeking corroboration of the complaint, the investigators will ascertain from the witness(es) not only the facts of the behaviour but also any relevant circumstances.
When seeking a remedy, the investigators will be guided by the goals of this policy:
1) Stop the harassment.
2) Safeguard against a repeat of the offensive behaviour.
3) Show the harasser why the objectionable behaviour is unacceptable.
4) Satisfy the complainant that the event will remain harassment free.
The role of the investigators is not to mete out punishment, but to ensure an harassment-free environment.