There are male MLAs guilty of sexual harassment against female MLAs in the Manitoba legislature, New Democrat Nahanni Fontaine says.
However, Fontaine wouldn't name them Thursday. She said it's up to the men to step forward and apologize.
She made the comments in the chamber while speaking about International Women's Day.
Fontaine also told the house Indigenous women regularly contact her about sexual harassment "within the Indigenous political sphere. (They are) terrified to come forward with their own experiences against current or former chiefs, councillors, grand chiefs, and spiritual advisers.
"It would be naive to think harassing behaviours currently do not exist in this building. They do," said the MLA for St. Johns. "As a former staffer in this building, I know too well the sense of powerlessness and anxiety when subjected to sexual harassment, contempt, and belittling by a former MLA."
Fontaine did not identify that former MLA, nor specify if she was referring to the women who came forward last month with complaints of sexual misconduct against former NDP cabinet minister Stan Struthers. Struthers did not seek re-election in 2016.
She cited three incidents allegedly perpetrated by current male MLAs: attempting to intimidate a female MLA in a committee meeting by staring her down; yelling at a female MLA in another committee meeting; and saying to several MLAs while a female MLA was in the washroom, "I hope she gets everything out."
Fontaine told the legislature it's not her responsibility to identify the male MLAs who allegedly committed harassment. "I invite them to identify themselves and apologize," she said.
No one did.
In a scrum after question period, Fontaine told reporters: "Today, on International Women's Day, it's so important to take a stand."
She refused to name any of the men reportedly involved, or provide any more detail. Even while she was leaving question period, Fontaine said, another Indigenous woman had texted her about sexual harassment.
Fontaine denied she was leaving all male Indigenous leaders and all MLAs open to blame if she didn't name names.
"If you haven't done anything, you have nothing to worry about," she said. "That will be my only comment on it."
However, Fontaine relented and said one of the three incidents she referenced happened to her, and the other two to other female MLAs who had given her permission to share the incidents without details or names.
The MLA for St. Johns said whenever sexual misconduct happens, it's always up to women to come forward, deal with the behaviour and the consequences of going public, and deal with their own healing. No longer, she said.
"I'm done with that today. It's their (men's) responsibility to come forward and name themselves, and apologize," she said.
Status of Women Minister Rochelle Squires later reminded reporters when Tory MLA Sarah Guillemard accused the New Democrats of sexist behaviour, in the form of yelling at her and other female MLAs in the fall of 2016, Fontaine had denied the incident.
"I'm pleased the member is now calling out the misogyny she sees in the chamber."
Squires said it was NDP Leader Wab Kinew who, in that 2016 incident, had acknowledged that several male New Democrats had acted improperly. At the time, Fontaine had first said her male colleagues were yelling at both female and male Tories, then later said she had been mistaken.
Squires said women deserve to feel safe and free of harassment in the legislature.
"The cut and thrust of politics is daunting for women — we have experienced a culture of misogyny," the minister said.
Nick Martin is the bearded guy we keep hidden away at the back of the newsroom. He is now in his fourth decade working in daily newspapers.
Updated on Thursday, March 8, 2018 at 8:29 PM CST: Fixes typo in headline