Actra fights back

Groups representing Canada's screen and stage talent say they feel a sense of "urgency" in implementing a new collective approach to end sexual harassment, but they also want to get it right.

Representatives from 16 organizations — including the actors' union ACTRA, the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television, and the Director's Guild of Canada (DGC) — gathered with a moderator and a few lawyers Thursday in a five-hour, closed-door meeting in Toronto to discuss sexual harassment, discrimination, bullying and violence.

They emerged with an agreement that there should be "zero tolerance for such behaviour" and a recognition "that increasing gender equality and diversity across our industry is an important part of the solution," according to a statement.

They also committed to four steps, including "enacting an industry-wide code of conduct" that would clearly define expectations of appropriate and inappropriate behaviour, enforcement and consequences.

In an interview Friday, David Sparrow, national president of ACTRA, didn't want to give a timeline on when the measures might be implemented.

"I am saying that we're going to move speedily on this," he said by phone.

"We want to have things in place as soon as possible. But the entire group believes that getting it right is more important than doing it fast."

His thoughts were echoed by Kendrie Upton, executive director of the DGC's B.C. branch, who is the guild's national lead on anti-harassment.

Toronto actress Mia Kirshner, who says she's a survivor of harassment in the industry and sexual assault, is hoping Sparrow and ACTRA will also participate in an event for the #AfterMeToo group she co-created.

#AfterMeToo, which also includes screen industry leaders from across Canada, aims "to ensure that appropriate legislation, culture and policy shift to protect the survivor rather than the predator."

While she was invited by ACTRA to be a part of a new committee to deal with the topic, she declined because they didn't give her specifics on what it involved.

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