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In a confusing situation in the House of Commons Monday, a Conservative MP apologized to a Liberal colleague for an inappropriate comment he made at an event in May. Manitoba MP James Bezan said in a statement that he was at a public event in Ottawa when he posed for a photo with Quebec MP Sherry Romanado and another individual. In reference to the fact that he was Conservative and she was Liberal, Bezan said, “This isn’t my idea of a threesome.”

Bezan’s statement says the “inappropriate and flippant comment … was intended as a partisan comment about being in a photo with a Liberal member of caucus.” He also says that he made an attempt to apologize the following day as well as a week later after Romanado filed a formal complaint with the Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO). He reports being refused on both occasions.

Bezan also says that he went through a review by the CHRO, offered again to apologize in person, went through sensitivity training and sent a written letter of apology to Romanado. On Aug. 16, the CHRO confirmed that his report “did not support a claim of sexual harassment” and no disciplinary action was taken against Bezan. He was also eventually permitted to apologize in person.

And this all makes what happened in the House yesterday a little strange.

Bezan elected to apologize again, this time in front of the HoC. He did not get into the specifics as he did in his written statement, but he seemed sincere.

“Earlier this year I made an inappropriate and insensitive comment in the presence of the member from Longueuil—Charles—LeMoyne,” he said, “I have nothing but the greatest respect for this member, for this institution and I sincerely apologize.” The speaker then thanked Bezan for his “gracious” apology.

A few hours later, after Question Period, Romanado took the floor not to accept the apology, but to express her feelings at the time Bezan made the comment.

“In May the member from Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman publicly made inappropriate, humiliating and unwanted comments to me that were sexual in nature,” she said, “These comments have caused me great stress and have negatively affected my work environment.” Romanado then abruptly returned to her seat.

Romanado’s office has said that she will not address the issue again.

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