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Canada's Member-to-Member Code of Conduct on Sexual Harassment in the House of Commons: Progress or Regress?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 July 2018

Cheryl N. Collier*
University of Windsor
Tracey Raney*
Ryerson University
Dept. of Political Science, University of Windsor, 401 Sunset Avenue, Windsor ON, N9B 3P4, email:
Dept. of Politics and Public Administration, Ryerson University, JOR 713A Victoria St., Toronto ON, M5B2K3, email:


In 2015, the Canadian House of Commons passed a new code of conduct governing non-criminal sexual harassment between members of Parliament becoming the first of its kind in any Westminster system in the world. Using a feminist institutional and violence-against-women-in-politics approach, we assess how the code challenges, legitimizes and upholds traditionally gendered norms and institutionalized sexism within Canada's parliamentary system including parliamentary privilege, party cohesion and party discipline. Despite its novelty, we argue this code fails to enact positive gender-friendly institutional change and may do more harm than good in its efforts to curb sexual harassment.


En 2015, la Chambre des communes du Canada a adopté un nouveau code de conduite en matière de harcèlement sexuel non criminel entre élus, le premier du genre au sein du système de Westminster au monde. En utilisant une approche féministe institutionnelle et de la violence faite aux femmes en politique, nous évaluons comment le code remet en question, légitime et maintient les normes traditionnellement sexospécifiques et le sexisme institutionnalisé au sein du système parlementaire canadien, y compris le privilège parlementaire, la cohésion et la discipline de parti. Malgré sa nouveauté, nous soutenons que ce code ne parvient pas à mettre en œuvre des changements institutionnels positifs favorables à l'égalité des sexes et qu'il peut faire plus de mal que de bien dans ses efforts visant à réduire le harcèlement sexuel.

Research Article/Étude originale
Copyright © Canadian Political Science Association (l'Association canadienne de science politique) and/et la Société québécoise de science politique 2018 

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The authors would like to thank the journal's editorial team and the anonymous reviewers of our manuscript for their helpful and supportive suggestions.


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