2 Liberal MPs accused of sexual harassment to get permanent boot
WATCH: Two Liberal Members of Parliament, currently suspended over allegations of sexual misconduct, may be gone from caucus for good. Jacques Bourbeau has the story.
OTTAWA – Two Liberal MPs accused of sexual misconduct toward two female NDP colleagues are expected to be told today that they’re being permanently booted from the Grit fold. Montreal MP Massimo Pacetti has said he would not stand for reelection.
Liberal insiders say the fate of Pacetti and Newfoundland MP Scott Andrews has been decided by Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau after receiving the results of an independent investigation he ordered into complaints levelled against them. In a statement, Pacetti has said he would remain as MP for Saint-Léonard Saint-Michel but would not run again.
Toronto lawyer Cynthia Petersen, a human rights specialist who has investigated sexual harassment complaints in the private sector, handed Trudeau her report on Pacetti and Andrews last week.
Trudeau suspended the pair last November from the Liberal caucus and from seeking re-election under the party’s banner after a female New Democrat complained directly to him that Pacetti had allegedly had sex with her without her explicit consent.
The New Democrat also revealed to Trudeau that another female NDP MP had allegedly been sexually harassed by Andrews.
Both Pacetti and Andrews have maintained they did nothing wrong.
Andrews has released a statement saying he is ‘astounded’ that stories are circulating that he would not be allowed into the Liberal caucus. He said that he was assured that he would be able to read the executive summary of Petersen’s report before it was discussed publically. Petersen also said that he has had no communication with the Liberals or with Trudeau about the report.
Read Andrew’s full statement:
In a statement Pacetti thanked his family and friends for their support during his 13 years in Parliament but said it would not be in the interests of his constituents and family for him to run again. He did not mention the allegations of sexual harassment.
Read Pacetti’s full statement:
Attempts to get to the bottom of the complaints have been frustrated by the fact there is no formal process for investigating misconduct complaints between MPs.
Last fall, Trudeau initially asked the Liberal whip, Judy Foote, to speak privately with the two women and, as a result of that informal process, bounced Pacetti and Andrews from caucus.
At the time, he said only that he’d taken action after hearing complaints about “personal misconduct” from an MP from another party. He did not reveal the nature of the complaints or the gender or party affiliation of the complainants.
However, furious New Democrats accused him of “re-victimizing” the women by making the matter public. Trudeau’s attempts to win all-party support for creating an independent process for investigating the complaints foundered while Pacetti and Andrews, their reputations in tatters, languished in limbo.
In December, Trudeau hired Petersen to conduct an investigation. It is not clear if either of the women co-operated with her or whether she had to rely on notes taken during the complainants’ meetings with Foote.
One of the alleged victims spoke on condition of anonymity to various media outlets, including The Canadian Press, late last November.
She alleged that she and Pacetti, whom she considered a friend, had been at a sporting event together last March. She agreed to go for a night cap in the hotel room Pacetti calls home while in Ottawa, where she alleged he made unwanted sexual advances.
Eventually, she alleged that Pacetti pulled her to him and they ended up having sex. The woman, who said she had previously been the victim of a violent sexual assault, said she froze and blocked out the situation. She alleged it was sex without her explicit consent.
During the confidential meeting with Foote, sources have told The Canadian Press that the woman acknowledged she did not explicitly say no to Pacetti and that she provided a condom. In the interview, she refused to comment on those details.
Sources have told The Canadian Press that a separate incident involving another female New Democrat began when she accompanied Pacetti and Andrews to Pacetti’s Parliament Hill office after a social event. The three drank some wine but Pacetti eventually left the other two alone.
According to sources, the woman alleged that Andrews followed her home, forced his way through her door, pushed her against a wall, groped her and ground his pelvis against her. She ordered him to leave. He did.
Sources have said the woman further alleged that Andrews subsequently repeatedly harassed her verbally, calling her a “c–kteaser,” among other things.
© 2015 The Canadian Press