A Liberal MP says she was subjected to “inappropriate, humiliating and unwanted comments” made by Conservative MP James Bezan last spring.
Sherry Romanado rose on a point of order Monday in the House of Commons to make the complaint against Bezan, who was first elected as a Conservative MP in 2004.
“In May, the member (Bezan) publicly made inappropriate, humiliating and unwanted comments to me that were sexual in nature,” she said. “These comments have caused me great stress and negatively affected my work environment.”
Romanado did not immediately elaborate on the exact nature of the comments, where they were made or in what context. She did not provide any additional comment outside in the foyer.
It was Bezan who clarified the circumstances in a statement issued shortly after 4 p.m..
“On May 2, 2017, at a public event at Ottawa City Hall, I was posing for a picture with a member of the House of Commons and another individual,” he explained.
“While standing for the picture I made an inappropriate and flippant comment by saying, ‘this isn’t my idea of a threesome,’ which was intended as a partisan comment about being in a photo with a Liberal member of caucus.”
Bezan said he realized the comment was inappropriate and attempted to apologize the following day, “but was not afforded that opportunity.”
Official complaint made
About a week later, Bezan said, Romanado filed an official complaint and Bezan’s request to enter into mediation was denied.
“A subsequent review was launched by the (Chief Human Resources Officer) into my comment … I willingly participated in this review and continued to offer my participation in mediation,” Bezan wrote.
Bezan says he then apologized in writing to Romanado, and that in August, officials determined that the incident did not support a claim of sexual harassment. No disciplinary action was recommended, according to the Conservative MP.
“Subsequently, and with the agreement of the two party whips in question, I apologized in person to the member and I also completed sensitivity training offered by the House of Commons.”
On Monday morning, Bezan rose publicly in the House of Commons to apologize for what he called an “inappropriate and insensitive comment in the presence of (Romanado).”
Bezan added that he has “nothing but the greatest respect for this member, for this institution, and I sincerely apologize.”
Romanado, first elected in 2015, represents the riding of Longueuil—Charles-LeMoyne and serves as Parliamentary Secretary to the minister of Veterans Affairs and associate minister of National Defence.
Bezan is the Conservative party’s defence critic.
It’s not the first case of an inappropriate comment made by a male MP coming to light this year. In March, Liberal MP Nicola Di Iorio likened Conservative Dianne Watts to a stripper during a committee meeting after her phone went off.