Canadian Politician Sheila Copps Claims Sexual Assault
Former Liberal cabinet minister Sheila Copps says she was sexually assaulted
Sheila Copps pauses for a moment during a news conference in Ottawa on March 10, 2004. (CP)
*Please note that this is an article from Canadian media. The quotes have been highlighted and analysis has been added in bold type to the article.
Earlier today, I analyzed the statement of a woman who claimed to have been drugged and sexually assaulted by Bill Cosby. I found her statement to be truthful.
What of this one?
A few weeks ago, she took political heat for defending Jian Ghomeshi, of whom Statement Analysis showed did sexually assault his victim and that he had other victims (leakage), which, over the course of a week, proved to be true.
Yet here, we find something very different in the language:
A couple of weeks ago, former Liberal MP and cabinet minister Sheila Copps incurred the wrath of the Twitterverse for defending former CBC personality Jian Ghomeshi over sexual assault allegations.
Today, she’s not only backtracking, she’s sharing a very personal story of her own.
“I was sexually assaulted by another Member of the Provincial Parliament within a year of my arrival at Queen’s Park at the age of 28,” she wrote in the Hill Times.
"The incident occurred when we exited a hotel elevator after enjoying a group dinner following a day-long session in northern Ontario.
"I pushed back on my assailant, kicking him where it hurts, when he tried to force me up against a wall and kiss me. I never reported him, chalking the incident up to personal misjudgment."
The "incident" would be sexual assault. She gives the timing of the alleged assault but when she does, she uses the pronoun "we", which indicates unity and cooperation.
In sexual assault cases, it is not expected to find the pronoun "we" at the time of the assault, nor afterwards. Repeatedly, when there is a sexual assault, the victim does not see herself as part of a cooperative party, hence, there is no use of the pronoun "we" during, nor after the assault.
Note "I pushed 'back'", indicating pushing was done previously.
Note she calls him "my assailant", with the possessive pronoun "my" used. She is taking ownership of the assailant.
This is also unexpected, as sexual assault victims do not take ownership of anything to do with the assailant. One might consider that a victim would not want the word "my" in accord with anything to do with the assailant.
Copps goes on to write that she was also once raped by somebody she knew but didn’t go into any detail about who raped her or under what circumstance.
The above "assault" is not rape. One might wonder why the article has focused on an unwanted kiss, while rape is not discussed. This is not expected.
She did say, however, that police told her it would be “impossible” to get a conviction.
The first incident — at Queen’s Park — is an account consistent with the flurry of stories that we’ve seen in recent weeks about the culture of harassment that exists in our legislatures and parliament.
Last week, political pundit Ian Capstick alleged that 2 male MPs sexually harassed him several years ago when he was a 20-something political staffer.
"I felt powerless," Capstick said, according to CBC News.
"You feel absolutely without power to be able to report somebody who is 30 or 40 years, in some instances, your senior and is perhaps at a status where you just simply as a 21-year-old can’t challenge that person."
Last week, a day after Liberal leader Justin Trudeau suspended two Liberal MPs for an alleged ‘personal misconduct’, NDP MP Megan Leslie spoke to CBC about harassment — physical, verbal or otherwise — on the Hill.
"It’s a really special place. It’s a glorious place sometimes. But sexual harassment and harassment in general is an issue. Is it worse here? I’ll certainly say it’s different here," she said.
"I do think that we are back in another decade here. It is a strange place."
And at Queen’s Park, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne told reporters that she’s had to take action on sexual harassment complaints while serving as Premier.
Experts — political and psychological — have, over the past week, offered their opinions as to why harassment exists at a seemingly disproportionate degree in our legislatures. Power imbalances, an old-boys club, alcohol, and politicians being away from home are some of the main culprits, they say.
But, in her column, Copps notes something that could be another reason for the culture of harassment: No consequences.
"On Parliament Hill, there are sexual dalliances, affairs, and outright assaults that occur," she writes.
Note the order:
1. sexual dalliances
3. outright assaults
Only the third, and last listed, is a crime.
"The difference is that victims in that sanctified workplace do not have the right to go beyond the Hill for due process."
The word "that" shows distancing language.
There is not enough here for a strong conclusion, but there is enough to question the allegation made by Sheila Copps regarding sexual assault. That she lists "assaults" last, and calls it "outright", gives strength to the belief that her statement is not only false and politically motivated, but that she might have been involved in personal wrong-doing.