November 24, 2017 11:57 am

Canadian actors’ union ACTRA setting code of conduct amid Hollywood sex scandals

Harvey Weinstein attends the 'Lion' premiere and opening ceremony of the 12th Zurich Film Festival on September 22, 2016.

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On Thursday, ACTRA, the Canadian actors’ union, held a meeting with its stakeholders to discuss action in the face of Hollywood’s sexual harassment and assault scandal.

After the day-long meeting closed, ACTRA announced that it’s introducing a code of conduct, “clearly defining expectations of appropriate and inappropriate behaviour, enforcement and consequences.”

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The organization also said that it has implemented a “zero tolerance” stance on sexual harassment, discrimination, bullying and violence, and acknowledged that increasing gender equality and diversity in the industry is key to any advancement.

South of the border, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) has already drawn up a similar code of conduct. Gabrielle Carteris, president of ACTRA American equivalent SAG-AFTRA, is also organizing further initiatives in the U.S.

Other initiatives agreed upon by ACTRA members include:

  • Creating more effective reporting mechanisms and supports, which ensure all individuals can report allegations without fear of judgment or retribution
  • Ensuring more effective enforcement of existing industry policies
  • Launching a multi-level education and training program, including an industry-wide awareness campaign designed to establish and strengthen a culture of safe workplaces

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Speaking to Global News earlier in November, Theresa Tova, ACTRA Toronto president and the national treasurer of the organization, said she is very confident that these measures will help provide safety and security for members. Tova credits actor Rose McGowan, among the other women who first came forward, for shining a light on the things that happen outside of the boundaries of a traditional workplace.

“We have really, really strong negotiated agreements with health, safety and anti-harassment policies, reporting policies and disciplines,” said Tova. “But what Rose [McGowan] and the other women are shining a light on is the stuff that’s happening outside… we don’t even have contracts in place with these production companies when this [stuff] is happening.”

“Serial predators. Recidivists. There are too many enablers, an uneven power dynamic,” Tova lists among the existing problems facing women in the industry and in everyday life. “Women have had to put up with it for so long, we don’t even believe we have a voice. It goes back to seeing the women who’ve tried, be raped through the legal system. We need to improve our disciplines here and what we do to protect these women.”

READ MORE: John Lasseter takes leave from Disney, Pixar after harassment allegations

The sexual assault scandal currently rocking Hollywood started at the beginning of October when dozens of (and now more than 100) women accused executive producer Harvey Weinstein of improprieties.

From there, the accusations were levelled against many powerful figures in the industry, including Kevin SpaceyJames TobackLouis C.K.Jeffrey TamborBrett Ratner and Ed Westwick.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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