People walk past the Canadian Museum of History Saturday, March 14, 2020 in Gatineau, Que.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Heritage Ministry reviewing workplace harassment probe at Canadian Museum of History

Heritage Ministry reviewing workplace harassment probe at Canadian Museum of History

OTTAWA — The Heritage Ministry says it’s reviewing the results of an independent investigation into harassment allegations at the Canadian Museum of History.

The ministry revealed no details, citing the Privacy Act in guarding specific complaints and the name of individuals involved.

But it says national museums are expected to hold the “highest standards of respect, healthy working relationships and inclusion,” and that the federal government has “zero tolerance” for harassment in the workplace.

The museum’s CEO Mark O’Neill has been on a medical leave since last summer when the investigation began.

His lawyer David Law says O’Neill has been “completely co-operative with the process” and would not comment on the report or allegations about O’Neill’s conduct.

The Gatineau, Que., museum’s board of trustees says the matter is now in the hands of Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault and that it is “fully committed” to ensuring “a safe, inclusive and diverse workplace.”

The Heritage Ministry adds that the museum is in the midst of “a comprehensive review of human resources policies, practices and procedures.”

In a report last September, CBC cited unnamed sources including current and former employees who detailed a toxic workplace culture at the museum.

The statements from the history museum and the Heritage Ministrycome on the heels of another report released Wednesday that detailed a hostile work environment at Rideau Hall. Julie Payette resigned as governor general last week.

Over at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg, an independent report last August concluded the institution was rife with sexism, heterosexism and homophobia. Its previous CEO John Young stepped down after the allegations emerged.

O’Neill’s lawyer cautioned against drawing comparisons between these cases and the Canadian Museum of History investigation.

“This is about real people, and it’s about careers and reputations, it’s about decades of public service. And human beings, all of whom are real and complicated,” Law said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 28, 2021.

The Canadian Press

workplace harassment