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Liberal MP Sherry Romanado, left, leaves a committee meeting with colleagues in Ottawa on Monday. She says Conservative MP James Bezan publicly made inappropriate sexual comments to her in May.


A Liberal MP says Conservative MP James Bezan made "inappropriate, humiliating and unwanted" sexual comments to her.

Mr. Bezan, however, said on Monday that he repeatedly apologized and took sensitivity training after the incident.

Quebec MP Sherry Romanado rose in the House of Commons on Monday and accused Mr. Bezan of publicly making comments months ago "that were sexual in nature."

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"These comments have caused me great stress, and have negatively affected my work environment," she said, without elaborating.

Mr. Bezan, who represents a Manitoba riding, pre-emptively apologized to Ms. Romanado in the House hours before her accusation, and later said he had apologized several times over the past few months. Later in a statement, Mr. Bezan said the Commons' chief human resources officer reviewed the incident and found it did not support a claim of sexual harassment, and no disciplinary action was recommended.

Ms. Romanado refused on Monday to provide further details of the encounter, which she said had occurred in May. "It's been an incredibly difficult seven months," she told reporters, appearing close to tears, after a national-defence committee meeting. Mr. Bezan, who also sits on the committee and is his party's defence critic, did not attend the meeting.

Mr. Bezan released a lengthy statement on Monday that said the incident occurred when he was posing for a picture with Ms. Romanado and a person he did not name at a public event at Ottawa City Hall on May 2.

"While standing for the picture, I made an inappropriate and flippant comment by saying, 'This isn't my idea of a threesome,' which was intended as a partisan comment about being in a photo with a Liberal member of caucus," Mr. Bezan said.

"I realized that this comment was inappropriate and attempted to apologize the following day, but was not afforded that opportunity."

Mr. Bezan said Ms. Romanado made a formal complaint to the chief human resources officer, adding that he offered to enter into mediation with her so that he could apologize. Mr. Bezan said the request was denied.

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He said the chief human resources officer, Pierre Parent, launched a review of the comment and that he co-operated with the review and apologized to Ms. Romanado in writing.

In an undated e-mail to Mr. Bezan, Mr. Parent said the final report did not support a claim of sexual harassment. He said no remedies, beyond unspecified ones in his report, are required.

"This file is therefore considered closed," Mr. Parent wrote.

Mr. Bezan said he later apologized to Ms. Romanado in person, with agreement from the two parties' whips, and took sensitivity training offered by the House of Commons. He said he agreed to further mediation and also apologized again to Ms. Romanado.

When asked to confirm the details of his report on Monday, Mr. Parent said, "Unfortunately, I am obligated to respect confidentiality." He directed questions to a House of Commons spokeswoman, who did not respond. A spokesman for Liberal whip Pablo Rodriguez said, "We don't comment on internal-related matters."

Mr. Bezan rose in the Commons early on Monday to issue his public apology.

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"Earlier this year, I made an inappropriate and insensitive comment in the presence of the member," he said, referring to Ms. Romanado. "I have nothing but the greatest respect for this member, for this institution, and I sincerely apologize."

Last month, Conservative MP Alice Wong accused Liberal MP Adam Vaughan of "elder abuse," racism and sexism for what she called intimidation during an incident aboard a parliamentary bus. Mr. Vaughan later apologized.

With a report from Erin Anderssen

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