OTTAWA — The Liberal Party has suspended two male Liberal MPs from its caucus pending an investigation into two separate sexual harassment allegations made by two MPs of another party.
The Huffington Post Canada has learned these are two female NDP MPs.
Montreal MP Massimo Pacetti and Newfoundland MP Scott Andrews were evicted from the Liberal caucus until further notice by leader Justin Trudeau Wednesday morning. The move came after Trudeau was approached by one of the MPs who was affected by one of the men’s behaviour. The two cases are unrelated, and the two men deny the accusations.
In a letter to the Speaker of the Commons, Liberal Whip Judy Foote said Trudeau was made aware on Oct. 28 of two “unrelated allegations of personal misconduct” and that he asked her to reach out to the affected MPs, investigate and find an appropriate resolution.
Foote said she met with the whip of the party which the MPs belong to last Wednesday and met with the women separately last Thursday.
“I have also spoken to separately to each of the members whose conduct is in question. They both deny the allegations,” Foote wrote.
UPDATE: NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair spoke briefly to reporters about the allegations.
"We want to make sure all parties work on these issues and it's something we should do together," he said.
At a press conference shortly after, Justin Trudeau said the candidacy of the two Liberal MPs in the 2015 election had also been suspended pending an investigation.
"This is a difficult situation but as leader I had an obligation to take action — a duty to take action — when I heard of the serious allegations of this nature," he told reporters.
He called on Parliament to develop a process to deal with complaints between MPs.
"It's 2014, it's time this workplace, like other workplaces across the country, had a process whereby these issues can be aired and dealt with."
A few hours later, Scott Andrews released a statement welcoming an investigation.
"I intend to fully cooperate with answering any and all questions from an independent third-party investigator," the statement reads. "I am confident such a process will find that no harassment has occurred."
Pacetti also released a statement saying he does not know the specific details of the allegations against him but is confident he will be exonerated.
"Until such time, I will sit in the House of Commons as an independent Member, and continue to represent the citizens of my riding," he said in the statement.
Speaker Andrew Scheer's office said he was "seized with the issue and takes the matter very seriously."
"He has directed the House administration to make available all internal resources to the individuals involved," his spokeswoman Heather Bradley said in a statement.
"The Speaker has also directed that the matter be taken up at the Board of Internal Economy at the earliest available opportunity."
The identity, gender and the party of the complainants were not released by the Liberal party.
Trudeau’s spokeswoman Kate Purchase said: “It’s not for us to name them. Mr. Trudeau has a duty to protect and encourage people in these situations to come forward.”
It’s unclear what prompted the MP to come forward. HuffPost has learned the alleged incidents happened several months ago in one case and more than a year ago in the other. It’s possible the sexual assault allegations about CBC personality Jian Ghomeshi and the discussions it sparked may have played a factor.
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HuffPost knows the identities of the two women but is choosing not to name them at this time.
Foote has asked the Board of Internal Economy, an all-party committee that administers the House of Commons, look into the allegations.
The Board of Internal Economy has never publicly acknowledged investigating allegations of personal misconduct between MPs. The board is occasionally tasked with dealing with complaints about sexual harassment and wrongful dismissal between MPs and their employees. Those matters are always dealt with behind closed doors, with neither party publicly named.
Out-of-court settlement are also rarely, if ever, disclosed.
Pacetti, who represents the riding of Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, was first elected to the Commons in a by-election in 2002. The 54-year-old’s biography on his website states that he is married with two children.
Andrews, 39, is married with two young boys. He is the MP for the riding of Avalon and was first elected in 2008. HuffPost learned Wednesday morning that he had left Ottawa.
Neither man has a criminal record in Ontario, Quebec or Newfoundland and Labrador.
The Liberal caucus is now down to 35 MPs.