OTTAWA - Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has expelled two MPs — Scott Andrews and Massimo Pacetti — over allegations of “personal misconduct” with two members of Parliament.
Sources tell the Toronto Star the complainants are female MPs from the New Democratic Party.
Liberals are asking the Commons Speaker to conduct an investigation into a controversy described as “unprecedented.” Both accused MPs deny the charges.
The expulsions plunge Parliament Hill into the centre of the widening national discussion over sexual assault, which began last week with the firing of CBC host Jian Ghomeshi.
Andrews, first elected in 2008 in the Newfoundland riding of Avalon, is married with a young son. Pacetti, first elected in the Montreal riding of Saint-Léonard / Saint-Michel in 2002, is married with two children.
The Liberal party whip, Judy Foote, outlined the charges in a letter to Commons Speaker Andrew Scheer, in which she says that high-level meetings took place on Oct. 29 and 30 to discuss the allegations.
“To my knowledge, there is no precedent or established process for dealing with a situation such as this. The House of Commons has a process for administration of misconduct in the workplace, but there is no established process for complaints between members,” Foote writes. She also asks that the Speaker set up such a process.
In one of the cases, Trudeau was approached directly by the MP making the complaint. Amid last week’s explosion of stories about Ghomeshi, as well as because of Trudeau’s own background, the charges of misconduct were immediately taken seriously.
Trudeau, as a student, was one of the first male volunteers to work at the Sexual Assault Centre at Montreal’s McGill University.
In his newly released autobiography, the Liberal leader writes of the work he did at McGill, and, with almost eerie foreshadowing of this new controversy, describes how power and institutions can be unhelpful in dealing with sexual-assault issues.
“Many people believed that rape was something that happened when a stranger jumped out of the bushes,” Trudeau writes in Common Ground. “We wanted everyone to understand that the vast majority of sexual assaults are committed by people known to the victim and are as much about power as they are about sex.”
Trudeau said that he learned a valuable lesson when he approached McGill about a “somewhat controversial” choice the university made for a newly created post of sexual-assault ombudsperson on campus.
“Another student and I spoke with the university’s president about our concerns. It was a lesson for me on how resistant to dealing with delicate issues institutions can be; we were thanked for voicing our perspective and politely ignored.”
Letter advising Speaker of allegations against Liberal MPs
- With files from Bruce Campion-Smith, Alex Boutilier and Joanna Smith