It Should Be Easy to Fix

It Should Be Easy to Fix

By Bonnie Robichaud

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In 1977, Bonnie Robichaud accepted a job at the Department of Defence military base in North Bay, Ontario. After a string of dead-end jobs, with five young children at home, Robichaud was ecstatic to have found a unionized job with steady pay, benefits, and vacation time.

After her supervisor began to sexually harass and intimidate her, her story could have followed the same course as countless women before her: endure, stay silent, and eventually quit. Instead, Robichaud filed a complaint after her probation period was up. When a high-ranking officer said she was the only one who had ever complained, Robichaud said, “Good. Then it should be easy to fix.”

This timely and revelatory memoir follows her gruelling eleven-year fight for justice, which was won in the Supreme Court of Canada. The unanimous decision set a historic legal precedent that employers are responsible for maintaining a respectful and harassment-free workplace. Robichaud’s story is a landmark piece of Canadian labour history—one that is more relevant today than ever.

Praise

It Should Be Easy to Fix is an important look beyond the headlines of Bonnie Robichaud’s groundbreaking court victory. A working-class mother from Northern Ontario, she is the unlikely hero of this story. Yet in these pages, she powerfully details how she remained steadfast in her belief that a safe workplace was her right. Canadian women are safer as a result of her sacrifice.”

– Julie S. Lalonde, author of Resilience Is Futile: The Life and Death and Life of Julie S. Lalonde

“The straight-goods inside story about what sexual harassment really feels like. An eleven-year struggle toward an unprecedented legal victory in the Supreme Court. Bonnie Robichaud survived to tell the tale, as the living embodiment of the solution, not the problem. To echo Justice L’Heureux-Dubé, she is my hero.”

– Constance Backhouse, co-author of The Secret Oppression: Sexual Harassment of Working Women

“This is a story every student and worker should read. Although the events Robichaud recounts happened long ago, women and other feminized people encounter similarly dismissive attitudes and ongoing intransigence about workplace sexual harassment today. This riveting account gives us hope and ammunition to not just protect the gains of the past, but to also expand the fight for justice in the present.”

– Susan Ferguson, author of Women and Work: Feminism, Labour, and Social Reproduction

“This landmark Supreme Court decision remains extremely important in the context of the MeToo movement and harassment suits against the RCMP and within the military. In It Should Be Easy to Fix, Bonnie Robichaud tells her story in intimate detail. The book should be required reading for all interested in ending gender-based harassment. Thank you, yet again, Ms. Robichaud, for your courage.”

– Nadia Verrelli and Lori Chambers, authors of No Legal Way Out: R v Ryan, Domestic Abuse, and the Defence of Duress

It Should Be Easy to Fix documents Bonnie Robichaud’s courageous and dedicated advocacy to have the Supreme Court recognize workplace sexual harassment in Canadian law. She shows us how much advocates risk to change oppressive systems. We are all indebted to Bonnie Robichaud.”

– Mandi Gray, post-doctoral associate, University of Calgary

Contents

Preface: The Honorable Claire L’Heureux-Dubé
Introduction: “It Should Be Easy to Fix”
Chapter 1: My Life Before
Chapter 2: No More Dead-End Jobs
Chapter 3: The Harassment
Chapter 4: Speaking Out and Backlash
Chapter 5: Setting Boundaries
Chapter 6: Making Waves: Human Rights Tribunal
Chapter 7: Understanding the Big Picture
Chapter 8: Pushing Beyond Boundaries
Chapter 9: Going It Alone
Chapter 10: Choosing to Fight, Again
Chapter 11: Supreme Court Victory
Afterword
Acknowledgements
Appendix
Index