Sheila Copps says NDP MPs opening up about harassment could force change

Sheila Copps says she was raped years ago by a boyfriend and sexually assaulted by a fellow MPP as a novice member of Ontario’s legislature.

OTTAWA — Sheila Copps says she was raped years ago by a boyfriend and sexually assaulted by a fellow MPP as a novice member of Ontario’s legislature.

So the former deputy prime minister empathizes with two female New Democrat MPs who are reluctant to talk about their allegations of inappropriate conduct by two Liberal colleagues.

Still, Copps says they can change attitudes towards sexual harassment by lodging formal complaints.

She says they have the power to be open and force changes.

And, unlike a political staffer who is sexually harassed, Copps says the MPs don’t have to fear being demoted or fired.

Copps herself did not tell anyone when, as a neophyte, 28-year-old MPP, a Conservative colleague pushed her against a wall and began kissing her and fondling her breasts — an unwelcome encounter she ended by kneeing him in the groin.

She did go to the police about a date rape but says she was advised it was not worth pursuing because there was little likelihood of obtaining a conviction.

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