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

U-Haul truck hits hydro pole, causes power outage in Surrey

Vehicle driving westbound on Fraser Highway

UPDATE: All-cat fight at Surrey RCMP Classic final Saturday night

Guildford Park beats Semiahmoo, ending Totems’ three-year championship run

Cloverdale man turns old bed racer into chicken coop

Clayton Heights’ Aaron Grim says repurposed racer ‘easy to clean and easy to collect the eggs’

Truck fire in Surrey destroys generator bound for Uganda missions trip, GoFundMe started

Glen Alexander says his ‘Jesus is Lord’ vehicle has been target of vandalism before

Fire truck, police car hit in chain of crashes on Hwy. 99 in South Surrey

‘People weren’t paying attention,’ says Surrey assistant fire chief

Horgan cancels event in northern B.C. due to security concerns, says Fraser Lake mayor

The premier will still be visiting the city, but the location and day will not be made public

B.C. landlord sentenced to two years in jail for torching his own rental property

Wei Li was convicted of intentionally lighting his rental property on fire in October 2017

VIDEO: Highway 1 left looking like winter war zone with dozens of stranded vehicles

Tow-truck driver says 30 vehicles still dot snowy landscape, including one rolled-over dairy truck

PHOTOS: Eastern Newfoundland reeling, search underway for missing man after blizzard

More than 70 centimetres of new snow fell overnight, creating whiteout conditions

Prince Harry, Meghan to give up ‘royal highness’ titles

‘Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of my family,’ says Queen Elizabeth II

Canada Post driver in hospital after ice smashes windshield at Massey Tunnel

Incident happened on Richmond side of the Massey Tunnel

B.C. society calls out conservation officer after dropping off bear cub covered in ice

Ice can be seen in video matted into emaciated bear cub’s fur

Calls for dialogue as Coastal GasLink pipeline polarizes some in northern B.C.

Coastal GasLink is building the 670-kilometre pipeline from British Columbia’s northeast to Kitimat on the coast

Most Read