OTTAWA - The fate of two suspended Liberal politicians rests with a secretive all-party committee that settles House of Commons administration issues behind closed doors.
The Liberals have asked Speaker Andrew Scheer, who chairs the Board of Internal Economy, to “establish a process” to deal with allegations of “personal misconduct” against suspended Liberal MPs Scott Andrews and Massimo Pacetti.
Liberal Whip Judy Foote wrote Scheer on Wednesday, shortly before the allegations against the two MPs were made public. Foote said the allegations require the involvement of a “neutral third party,” presumably contracted by Scheer’s committee.
“To my knowledge, there is no precedent or established process for dealing with a situation such as this,” Foote wrote.
“Accordingly, I request that you establish a process for dealing with these individual complaints.”
Andrews and Pacetti were booted from the Liberal caucus Wednesday, one week after Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said he was told of their alleged misconduct.
It’s not clear what allegations were actually made, except that Andrews and Pacetti are accused of misconduct in two separate incidents involving two New Democrat MPs. Trudeau repeatedly refused to expand on the specific content of those allegations.
Instead, in a press conference Wednesday morning, Trudeau left it up to Scheer to “engage with that” question. Trudeau also said it was not his role to recommend the RCMP investigate the matter.
In a statement Wednesday afternoon, Scheer said he was taking the matter “very seriously.”
“(Scheer) has directed the House administration to make available all internal resources to the individuals involved. The House administration stands ready to provide assistance as required,” the statement read. “(Scheer) has also directed that the matter be taken up at the Board of Internal Economy at the earliest available opportunity.”
The board typically deals with the financial and administrative matters of the House of Commons, including a wide variety of issues concerning Parliament and its services to members.
Composed of an equal number of government and opposition MPs, as well as the Speaker and the Clerk of the House of Commons, the board meets behind closed doors. The New Democrats have recently referred to the board as a “kangaroo court” in relation to its ongoing investigation into NDP satellite offices outside of Ottawa.
In her letter to Scheer, Foote recommended the board bring in a neutral third party to deal with the allegations and recommend a resolution.
“I do not believe it is possible, nor indeed appropriate, to attempt to properly deal with these complaints any further at the level of the whips,” Foote wrote. “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.”