Donald Trump’s lewd comments could be considered sexual harassment in Canada

Trump responded to the scandal by releasing a short video statement saying “I said it, I was wrong, and I apologize.”
Trump responded to the scandal by releasing a short video statement saying “I said it, I was wrong, and I apologize.” (Photo: REUTERS/Mike Segar)

Political scandals are a dime a dozen but United States presidential candidate Donald Trump seems to rack them up by the dozens.

His latest scandal has hit the world like a sledgehammer. The Washington Post obtained a 2005 video in which Trump is heard to brag about his record with women using vulgar language.

Trump responded to the scandal by releasing a short video statement saying “I said it, I was wrong, and I apologize.” He followed that up by saying that his published words were “a distraction from the issues we are facing today.”

But for many voters, sexual harassment and sexual assault are hot button issues that cannot be ignored, especially in light of revelations of numerous campus sexual assaults happening in campuses across Canada and the U.S.

What the presidential candidate also fails to appreciate is sexual comments directed against women, such as the comments he directed against U.S. entertainment reporter Nancy O’Dell and soap opera star Arianne Zucker, can’t be dismissed as “locker room talk”.

This is a workplace. It was harassment. They’re talking about a woman, and they come out of a bus, and they interact with her,” Lisa Bloom, a U.S. civil rights lawyer and sexual harassment expert told Newsweek about the comments Trump and Billy Bush, an American television host, made about Zucker in the video.

In Canada, provinces have human rights codes which forbid sexual harassment.

The Ontario Human Rights Code, for example, defines sexual harassment as: “. . .engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome”.

The Alberta Human Rights Commission expands on the OHRC’s definition of sexual harassment stating, “sexual harassment is usually an attempt by one person to exert power over another person”.

The Ontario Human Rights Commission further explains that the person should have known that his or her behaviour towards another person is unwelcome.

The type of behaviour that can be considered sexual harassment includes:

  • Derogatory language and/or comments toward women or men, sex-specific derogatory names;
  • Lewd, rough and vulgar humour or language related to gender;
  • Demanding hugs;
  • Invading someone’s personal space;
  • Unnecessary physical contact, including unwanted touching; and
  • Boasting about sexual prowess.

Trump’s troubles didn’t end with the video as new sexual misconduct allegations have been made against him.

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