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Justin Trudeau would fail his government’s workplace tests

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A publication on workplace harassment, issued by the Treasury Board in Ottawa, provides a detailed guide to “improper or offensive conduct” in the workplace.

As any reasonably aware manager knows, it’s a minefield. Harassment can include anything from speaking too loudly, entering an office too often, paying too much attention to a subordinate’s performance, or failing to move away from others when passing gas.

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Even complaining about someone who fails to move away from polite company while passing gas (or washing their feet in vinegar) could wind up in front of a tribunal.

The crucial part of the rules, however, is this: in most cases, the guidelines stipulate, “more than one act or event is needed.” And ignorance is no defence. The test is whether “the respondent knew or reasonably ought to have known that such behaviour would cause offence or harm.” The emphasis in both cases is the Treasury Board’s, which until recently was headed by Jane Philpott, one of the two cabinet members to step down over their dissatisfaction with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s handling of the SNC-Lavalin affair.

The wording is significant because both Trudeau and his former principal secretary, Gerald Butts, have pleaded ignorance as key to their defence.

“I was not aware of that erosion of trust,” Trudeau said in reference to the breakdown in relations between Butts and Jody Wilson-Raybould, the former justice........

© National Post