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Former deputy Liberal PM shames victim of sexual harassment, Catherine McKenna stays silent

Former Liberal Deputy Prime Minister Sheila Copps has once again found herself at the center of controversy, this time for cyberbullying a victim.
Anna Slatz Montreal, QC

Former Liberal Deputy Prime Minister and ex-MP for Hamilton East Sheila Copps has once again found herself at the center of controversy, this time for cyberbullying a victim of sexual harassment.

Copps’ victim-shaming retort was in response to Alberta public servant Kristin Raworth questioning Minister Catherine McKenna’s sincerity on the issue of tackling bullying and harassment after McKenna campaigned Wednesday in Hamilton with Copps, who Raworth called “one of the biggest bullies on Twitter.”

McKenna has repeatedly done media interviews over the past couple of years condemning the nasty harassment she faces from online trolls as a politician. Hours after Copps attacked Raworth and McKenna had campaigned with Copps, McKenna was calling out bullying on Twitter.

Despite not tagging or mentioning Copps, the retired politician somehow found Raworth’s tweet directed at McKenna. Copps once again berated Raworth for her political affiliations and past accusations against Calgary-area MP Kent Hehr.

In January of 2018, Raworth and one other unnamed woman, both political staffers, came forward with stories of being sexually harassed by Liberal MP and then-Minister for Sport and Persons with Disabilities Kent Hehr while he was an Alberta MLA (Member of the Legislative Assembly). Raworth took to Twitter, and recounted their experiences of regular sexual harassment, outlining the culture of fear that surrounded Hehr’s presence in the legislative assembly for women staffers.

Following the allegations, Hehr resigned from cabinet, but maintained his seat in the House and is seeking re-election despite Raworth’s claims of harassment having been deemed founded by an independent employment law firm contracted by the Prime Minister’s Office to investigate the claims.

After coming forward in 2018, Raworth said she received an onslaught of hatred and abuse both online and in person, including abusive rape and death threats slipped under her office door at the Alberta legislature. The frequency and intensity of the abuse led her to have to acquire a police-issued panic button. Raworth says her latest interaction with Copps resulted in her receiving a few abusive messages last night, which she reported to Twitter support.

Raworth says this is not the first time she’s received online hate from former Deputy Prime Minister Sheila Copps, referencing a May 3rd tweet where Copps decried Raworth’s allegations as having “almost destroyed Kent Hehr.”

Raworth says she takes particular issue with Copps suggesting she has ever been dishonest about her political affiliation and is using these allegations to damage the Liberal party, noting she never hid her work history with the Progressive Conservative party in Alberta. Articles released the day Raworth went public with her experiences reference her as an aide to a progressive conservative MLA.

“It is an ugly way of addressing an issue that isn’t partisan because she makes it partisan,”she says, adding, “Sexual harassment in politics is pervasive. And its pervasive because of people like Sheila Copps who refuse to stand up when it happens on their side of the aisle.”

Ironically, Trudeau’s oft-quoted hardline stance on believing women who come forward with experiences about sexual harassment was voiced after a caucus meeting following the Kent Hehr revalations. Yet, just months after Raworth and the other harassment victim came forward, Trudeau campaigned with Hehr, and claimed his constituents were “lucky” to have him.

Hehr has previously come under fire for mocking thalidomide survivors, and making derogatory remarks towards one female constituent while she sought help on denied maternity benefits.

On this ordeal, Raworth expresses that she hopes this experience with Copps will be her last.

“Who wants to be publicly bullied by the former Deputy Prime Minister of this country?” she says, “If I allowed that to continue, and I didn’t speak up and defend myself—[victims] might see that and think ‘If this happened to her, what would happen to me. Why would I say anything.’ I want to ensure no one feels that way.”

McKenna’s office and Copps did not respond to The Post Millennial’s requests for comment. McKenna did not respond to Raworth’s tweet calling it hypocritical for her to be campaigning with Copps while also being an advocate against bullying.

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Anna Slatz
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