Trudeau names lawyer to probe MP misconduct claims

Federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau says Cynthia Petersen, a lawyer with expertise in labour law and equality rights issues, will investigate misconduct allegations against two MPs he suspended from his party caucus.

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau says Cynthia Petersen, a lawyer with expertise in labour law and equality rights issues, will investigate misconduct allegations against two MPs he suspended from his party caucus.

Trudeau says he won’t speculate on the outcome of the probe, or how long it will take, or whether it will be made public.

“I look forward to receiving her advice,” Trudeau said Friday in St. John’s. “More than that, I’m not going to speculate on the outcome.”

Trudeau booted Scott Andrews and Massimo Pacetti from the Liberal caucus on Nov. 5, citing complaints of “serious personal misconduct.” He did not elaborate on the unproven allegations.

Andrews, a former ethics critic, has denied through a lawyer any wrongdoing since Trudeau suspended him. Pacetti has also denied wrongdoing.

Andrews has refused further comment, but sources familiar with the complaint have told The Canadian Press in Ottawa that an unnamed NDP MP alleges he victimized her within the past six months.

The woman accusing Andrews has not spoken publicly and does not wish to file a formal complaint, according to the NDP.

The sources say the incident allegedly began at a social event on Parliament Hill before the woman, Andrews and Pacetti went from there to Pacetti’s office, where they drank some wine. Pacetti eventually left, leaving Andrews and the woman alone.

The sources say the woman alleges Andrews followed her home, forced his way through her door, pushed her against a wall, groped her and ground his pelvis against her. The sources say she says she ordered him to leave and he did.

The woman further alleges that Andrews repeatedly called her a “c–kteaser” after the incident, according to the sources.

Andrews, a married father of two, has denied any misconduct and said he’s confident a non-partisan process will find that no harassment occurred. But the sources say he has not given a detailed rebuttal to the woman’s version of events that night.

His lawyer Chris MacLeod said last month in an email to The Canadian Press that Andrews was not provided with “any details of the internal summary or any documentation from the Liberal caucus” about the complaint against him.

“He is in no position to respond to an unknown allegation,” it said.

Another unnamed NDP MP who has accused Pacetti of “sex without explicit consent” in March has said she would be willing to participate in a neutral, third-party investigation.

The Speaker of the House of Commons clarified in a letter to the NDP last week how that process might work but the party has not released the letter or said how the matter might move forward.

Pacetti has said in an email that he maintains his innocence and has refrained from speculation in the media since the allegations first surfaced.

“As with media reports of this nature, in this instance many questions remain unanswered and there is no way to evaluate the veracity of the claims being made,” he has said in an email.

“I reaffirm my innocence and I will not comment on this matter in the media any further.”

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