OTTAWA — Two Liberal MPs have been kicked out of their party’s caucus amid accusations of personal misconduct made by two female members of the NDP.
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau says he removed Quebec MP Massimo Pacetti and Newfoundland MP Scott Andrews because their accusers, one of whom approached him personally, deserve the benefit of the doubt.
Trudeau says Pacetti and Andrews are denying the allegations, which he would only describe as “serious” allegations of “personal misconduct.”
He also says he has asked House of Commons Speaker Andrew Scheer to investigate.
Trudeau says the House of Commons needs to have clear guidelines and procedures in place to deal with such situations, similar to those in other workplaces.
“We have a duty to protect and encourage individuals in these situations to come forward,” Trudeau told a news conference.
“The action must be fair, but decisive. It must be sensitive to all affected parties, but recognizing how difficult it is to do so, it must give the benefit of the doubt to those who come forward.”
Pacetti is a Quebec MP, while Andrews — the member for the riding of Avalon in Newfoundland and Labrador — served as the party’s ethics critic.
Liberal whip Judy Foote wrote to Scheer today to say she has looked into the allegations and that the two former Liberals are denying the claims.
Foote said she discussed the matter with the two women — both members of the New Democrats, a party source said — on Oct. 30, but her letter did not provide details of the allegations.
NDP Leader Tom Mulcair made a brief statement earlier acknowledging the need for all parties to work together.
“We want to make sure that all parties work on these issues and I think it is something that we should do together to show that it is something on which we all agree,” Mulcair said.
“For obvious reasons, I will not make any further comment on this at this time in order to respect the privacy of the people concerned.”
Andrews, 39, was first elected as in 2008 and re-elected in 2011. As an MP, he has served on a number of committees, including fisheries, veterans affairs and natural resources.
He most recently served as the Liberal critic for access to information, privacy and ethics.
Pacetti, 52, is a veteran MP who was first elected to the Commons in a byelection in May 2002 in the Montreal riding of Saint-Leonard-Saint-Michel. He was re-elected in 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2011.
He has served on a number of Commons committees in his career, including a stint as chairman of the finance committee. Within the caucus, he was critic for amateur sport and small business and Quebec caucus chairman.
“Parliament needs clear guidelines and procedures for dealing with allegations of serious personal conduct of this nature,”Trudeau said.
“It would be to the benefit of all who earn the privilege of sitting in this House of Commons and all Canadians who look to us for leadership.”
Foote said there is a process for handling allegations of workplace misconduct involving employees, but she knows of no precedent for dealing with complaints among MPs.
“I believe a process that continues to deal with these allegations in a serious manner will require the involvement of a neutral third party trusted by all concerned,” Foote wrote in her letter.
She asked Scheer to establish a process for dealing with such cases in the future.