A story broke early this morning alleging Randy Hillier, the MPP for Lanark-Frontenac-Lennox and Addington, made unwanted physical contact with a female politician at a party convention in 2016.
The allegations were made by Goldie Ghamari, the Tory candidate in new south-Ottawa riding of Carleton. She says the two politicians went outside for a smoke and Hillier put his arms around her and dug his fingernails into her shoulders. As Hillier is a much larger man, Ghamari felt intimidated and threatened by the action. They had a brief exchange of words, and then Hillier left, after her laniard to read her name.
Ghamari said she went to the party executive director to discuss what happened. They investigated, but there were no security cameras pointed to the area where the two politicians were standing. And when asked, Hillier denied touching Ghamari, saying only they exchanged a few pleasantries before parting ways. With this information, Ghamari was told her option was to take him to court; otherwise, there was nothing the party could do.
Ghamari posted to social media leading up to the breaking of this story in the Ottawa Citizen, saying, “A sitting
#PCPO MPP harassed me, intimidated me, & used his body to bully & scare me out of getting involved in politics. I gave him an opportunity to apologize and recognize that his actions were wrong. He chose to deny it ever happened.” She urged the person to acknowledge their actions and apologize.
In response, Hillier sent her a personal email and posted a statement on Twitter, saying exactly what he said two years ago:
— Randy Hillier (@randyhillier) 29 January 2018
The two politicians are telling very different stories, which is one of the leading challenges when investigating a harassment claim. History has shown that investigators tend to side with the accused, unless clear evidence presents itself — and this instance was no exception. It was clear the party executive made a slight effort to determine what happened (with the insistence of Ghamari), but when no concrete evidence could be found, Ghamari was left to decide on her own whether to take legal action, without any support from her party.
These kind of stories are not unique, especially in politics. More stories will be heard in the coming months, and while some may say women are using these instances as political leverage leading up to an election, others would argue they are pushing the #MeToo conversation forward and bringing awareness to the treatment of women in public service.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.