A north-eastern Ontario mayor is facing an ethics investigation after sending a message to a young woman asking “a question or two” about her menstrual cycle.
Peterborough, Ontario mayor accused of sexual harassment after emailing woman’s menstrual cycle Read more
Since the image surfaced on Thursday, Peterborough mayor Adrian Dix has been accused of sexually harassing the person named on the message.
On Friday, provincial MPP Tom Blair named the woman in a news conference. Then, Peterborough-Kawartha MPP Sandra Pupatello, said that under the Ontario’s Code of Conduct, Dix should be removed from his post as the city’s mayor.
“This is one email. To single out one person, having the desire to be treated in a certain way, is absolutely unacceptable.”
According to Blair, Dix sent the message via a private Facebook messaging system to one of Dix’s constituents on Thursday. A few seconds into the exchange, she noticed the mayor’s staff had created a new account for Dix.
When she opened the message, she found herself in an anxious conversation with the mayor in which he appeared to ask an invasive question about her menstruation. He asked, according to Blair, whether a new vaccine for human papillomavirus (HPV) had changed the woman’s cycle.
“Excuse me, are you just a girl that’s on a period right now?” he wrote in an email that was uncovered by CTV news. “Do you always have periods, or do they take a little longer or much longer than they normally do? Do you change regularly or do you miss periods sometimes? Can you only have one period in a month (when you don’t forget your period)? Is that usual?”
By Friday evening, members of Dix’s staff told CTV that he had been released from his job, and would miss two Monday council meetings.
After CTV broadcast the story, the matter was referred to the Ontario ombudsman.
Dix has refused to comment. In a statement on Twitter, he said: “There has been an internal review, and the Ombudsman’s office will be assessing the information. The decision on future events rests with the council.”
Under the Ontario code of conduct, the mayor must not commit sexual misconduct or sexual harassment, or respond to people in a harassing manner. He also must “act prudently at all times”, even though failure to do so is not a form of sexual misconduct.
On Friday afternoon, Blair, who also serves as the deputy premier, said that Dix had two options: step down, or be removed from his position by the council. The council had already said it was “extremely uncomfortable” with Dix’s conduct, Blair said.
“The question I have for Mr Dix is this: have you taken responsibility for what you’ve done? Have you realized how much of a power trip it is that you have? Has anybody ever helped you understand that, that it’s a dangerous game to play? Have you spent any time understanding that?”
The investigation is expected to take up to six months, Blair said.
On Friday evening, an employee of the city posted an online note of support for Dix. “We as a community need and deserve to know that our elected officials aren’t abusing their power,” the note, posted by Luc Therrien, reads. “They’re out there, serving us.
“When we’re done tearing down Adrian Dix, we need to put our energy toward creating a better and more inclusive Peterborough.”