Liberal MPs kicked out of caucus amid harassment allegations
WATCH ABOVE: Liberal MPs Massimo Pacetti and Scott Andrews have both been suspended over allegations of personal misconduct. Sources say the accusation come from two NDP MPs. Vassy Kapelos has the story.
OTTAWA – Two Liberal MPs have been kicked out of their party’s caucus amid accusations of personal misconduct made by two female members of the NDP.
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said he removed Quebec MP Massimo Pacetti and Newfoundland MP Scott Andrews because their accusers, one of whom approached him personally, deserve the benefit of the doubt.
“It’s 2014. We have a duty to protect and encourage individuals in these situations to come forward,” he told a news conference.
“The action must be fair, but decisive. It must be sensitive to all affected parties, but, recognizing how difficult it is to do so, it must give the benefit of the doubt to those who come forward.”
Trudeau said Pacetti and Andrews are denying the allegations, which he would only describe as “serious” allegations of “personal misconduct.”
The Liberal leader said the House of Commons needs to have clear guidelines and procedures in place to deal with such situations, similar to those in other workplaces.
“I am aware of how difficult it is for people to come forward. I believe strongly that those of us in positions of authority have a duty to act upon allegations of this nature."
Liberal whip Judy Foote wrote to Commons Speaker Andrew Scheer Wednesday to say she has looked into the allegations and that the two former Liberals are denying the claims.
Foote said she discussed the matter with the two women on Oct. 30, but her letter did not provide details of the allegations. Trudeau said he asked Scheer to investigate.
Scheer said in a statement Wednesday afternoon he has told House Administration to make all internal resources available to the people involved, and directed the matter to be taken up at the Board of Internal Economy “at the earliest available opportunity.”
WATCH: NDP leader Thomas Mulcair ‘deeply saddened’ by reports of personal misconduct by Liberal MPs
Andrews, 39, was first elected as in 2008 and re-elected in 2011. As an MP, he has served on a number of committees, including fisheries, veterans affairs and natural resources.
He most recently served as the Liberal critic for access to information, privacy and ethics.
Pacetti, 52, is a veteran MP who was first elected to the Commons in a byelection in May 2002 in the Montreal riding of Saint-Leonard-Saint-Michel. He was re-elected in 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2011.
He has served on a number of Commons committees in his career, including a stint as chairman of the finance committee. Within the caucus, he was critic for amateur sport and small business and Quebec caucus chairman.
Pacetti released a statement Wednesday afternoon saying he had not been provided “the specific details of the allegations that led to this suspension”. Read his full statement below.
At 9:30 this morning I was informed by Justin Trudeau, Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, that I have been suspended from caucus, based on allegations against me of “personal misconduct.”
I have not been provided with the specific details of the allegations that led to this suspension. House Speaker Andrew Scheer has been asked to conduct an independent investigation, with which I intend to cooperate fully, and which I am confident will exonerate me.
Until such time, I will sit in the House of Commons as an independent Member, and continue to represent the citizens of my riding of Saint-Léonard / Saint-Michel, which I have represented with integrity and dedication since May 2002.
Foote said there is a process for handling allegations of workplace misconduct involving employees, but she knows of no precedent for dealing with complaints among MPs.
“I believe a process that continues to deal with these allegations in a serious manner will require the involvement of a neutral third party trusted by all concerned,” Foote wrote in her letter.
She asked Scheer to establish a process for dealing with such cases in the future.
Read the full letter from Foote below:
With files from Global News
© 2014 The Canadian Press