OTTAWA — Two female New Democrat MPs have been victimized a second time by Justin Trudeau’s decision to publicize their complaints of inappropriate behaviour against two Liberal MPs, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair says.
Mulcair confirmed Thursday that it was complaints from two NDP MPs that prompted Trudeau to suspend Scott Andrews and Massimo Pacetti from the Liberal caucus pending an investigation.
Speaking in Whitby, Ont., Mulcair said he knew about the complaints but had not pursued them because the women wanted to keep the matter confidential.
“Our No. 1 concern was to make sure that they got the help they needed and that their wishes were respected,” he said.
“Those wishes included a very strong desire to keep this confidential. That was their request and we were not about to override that and make them victims a second time.”
Mulcair added: “Anyone who went against that, of course, would be running the risk of making them become victims a second time. That’s certainly not something we would ever be part of.”
The Liberal leader announced Wednesday that he was suspending Pacetti and Andrews over allegations of “serious personal misconduct” levelled by two MPs from another party. He did not name the other party or the complainants or specify the nature of the alleged misconduct.
The matter has been referred to the secretive multi-party board of internal economy. The Liberals are asking that an independent third party be brought in to investigate the complaints.
Both Pacetti and Andrews deny any wrongdoing and say they expect to be exonerated.
Trudeau took action after one of the complainants personally complained to him on Oct. 28 about the Liberal MPs’ conduct. He instructed Liberal whip Judy Foote to discuss the matter with her NDP counterpart, Nycole Turmel.
Foote also interviewed both complainants and the two accused Liberal MPs.
Nevertheless, Mulcair said New Democrats had no idea Trudeau was going to make the matter public on Wednesday.
“There was no prior warning whatsoever from the Liberals that they were going to be bringing this forward yesterday,” he said.
Liberals have questioned how Trudeau was supposed to respond to a complaint made directly to him without revealing, at least in general terms, why he was suspending Andrews and Pacetti. Trudeau himself said Wednesday he had a duty to make the matter public.
“Look, folks, it’s 2014. It’s time that this workplace, like other workplaces across the country, had a process whereby these issues can be aired and dealt with,” he said.
“It is extremely important that we make it very clear that as an institution we will protect and encourage people who come forward with serious allegations of this type.”
Mulcair had a different take on his duty.
“We have a right to a safe workplace and that includes Parliament. Women should not have to worry about these things and, if they do have the courage to talk to those around them, we have an obligation to respect their wishes as stated,” he said.