OTTAWA — Officials for both Hunter Tootoo and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are keeping mum about published allegations against the embattled former fisheries minister.
Tootoo's office refused to comment Thursday about a Globe and Mail report that cited anonymous sources who say the Nunavut MP was involved in an inappropriate relationship with a staff member.
Hunter Tootoo speaks at the Kitsilano Coast Guard facility in Vancouver, B.C. in December 2015. (Photo: Darryl Dyck/CP)
Tootoo abruptly quit both his cabinet post and the Liberal caucus late in May to seek treatment for an alcohol problem. But the muted response of the Prime Minister's Office fuelled speculation that there was more to the story.
A spokesperson for Tootoo would only say the MP is focused on rebuilding trust with his constituents during the summer months after his two-month leave of absence.
In a statement Thursday, the PMO refused to say if it was aware of the allegations when Tootoo resigned at the end of May, repeating its best wishes for Tootoo and that he won't be rejoining the Liberal caucus any time soon.
'All kinds of rumours'
Tootoo, who is now sitting as an Independent, met with constituents in Iqaluit on Wednesday prior to a news conference at his office.
He said he needed to seek help for an alcohol problem, and that he was dealing with "deeply personal and private issues."
In an interview later with The Canadian Press, he acknowledged "all kinds of rumours" about the circumstances of his departure but he declined to elaborate further.
"That’s politics," Tootoo said. "I know what I'm dealing with … I needed to seek help and that’s exactly what I did."