Ottawa: A former Canadian deputy prime minister waded into a nationwide uproar over sexual violence today by revealing that she was twice assaulted when she was a budding politician years ago.
The shocking disclosure followed the suspension of two MPs by their party over allegations they harassed fellow lawmakers, and the firing of a top radio host over accusations of sexual violence.
The wide publicity generated by these separate cases in Ottawa and Toronto prompted an urgent public debate on sexual violence in society, as well as a rise in the number of complaints.
Among them, former deputy prime minister Sheila Copps, now 61, wrote in a column in the weekly newspaper The Hill Times that she was sexually assaulted by another member of the Ontario legislature within a year of first being elected at the age of 28.
Copps, who would later become deputy to Prime Minister Jean Chretien from 1993 to 1997, said one attack took place in a hotel hallway during a tour of northern Ontario to study violence against women.
"I pushed back on my assailant, kicking him where it hurts, when he tried to force me up against a wall and kiss me," she wrote.
Copps said she never reported it to police, chalking it up to a "personal misjudgement." by her attacker, a fellow legislator.