11/27/2014 08:09 EST | Updated 01/27/2015 05:59 EST

Parliament Hill harassment by '80s PM aide Michel Gratton recounted by ex-reporters

Well before the current tumult over sexual misconduct on Parliament Hill, a scandal involving a prime minister's aide made headlines three decades ago and underscored the sexism in political journalism.

In the 1980s, Kathryn Young was a young reporter for The Canadian Press, fresh out of school. Judy Morrison was the host of CBC's The House, and an accomplished journalist with a tough reputation.

Both had difficult encounters with Michel Gratton, press secretary to Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. They spoke about their experiences with host Carol Off on CBC Radio's As It Happens.

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In Young's case, it was reported in the media at the time as "unwanted sexual advances" by Gratton, for which he was forced to publicly apologize. Some media commentators chalked it up to "macho conduct" by the PM's aide, saying a "shift in attitudes" had made such behaviour "distasteful and tacky."

But the full, difficult story of what happened has never before been reported.

Both Morrison and Young say they can't believe there's still no system in place to deal with these issues on the Hill. 

Gratton resigned four months after the incidents became public, saying the media attention on him "really did me in." He died in 2011.