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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Just Posted

Disrespectful that Horgan won’t meet during northern B.C. tour: hereditary chief

Na’moks said he was frustrated Horgan didn’t meet with the chiefs

Commercial fishing concerns over marine protected areas

Fishermen of the Northern Shelf Bioregion seek solutions through consultations

BC Green Party leader visits Wet’suwet’en camps at heart of pipeline conflict

Adam Olsen calls for better relationship between Canada and First Nations

Haida Gwaii libraries announce their most popular books from the past year

These titles had islanders booking it to the library in 2019

Route 26 reinstated from Skidegate to Alliford Bay

B.C. Ferries service will begin later in January

Huawei exec’s extradition hearing begins in Canada

China’s foreign ministry complained the United States and Canada were violating Meng’s rights

Prince Harry: ‘Powerful media’ is why he’s stepping away

Prince Harry and Megan have stepped away from their royal commitments

How to beat Blue Monday, the most depressing day of the year

Multiple factors can play a role in seasonal depression, says Fraser Health psychiatrist

B.C. VIEWS: Few clouds on Horgan’s horizon

Horgan’s biggest challenge in the remainder of his term will be to keep the economy humming along

Victoria family focuses on ‘letting go, enjoying time together’ after dad gets dementia

Walter Strauss has developed an interest in music and now takes line dancing classes

B.C. forest industry grasps for hope amid seven-month strike, shutdowns, changes

Some experts say this could be worse for forestry than the 2008 financial crisis

Northern B.C. RCMP investigating alleged sexual assault in downtown Smithers

One person was transported by ambulance to hospital following RCMP investigation at Sedaz

UBC, Iranian-Canadian community create memorial scholarship in honour of victims

The Jan. 8 crash killed 176 people, including 57 Canadians

Most Read