OTTAWA - New Democrat Leader Thomas Mulcair says two women in his caucus came to their caucus with allegations of personal misconduct by two Liberal MPs some time ago, but asked them to keep it a secret.
Those two unidentified female NDP MPs — whose unspecified allegations led to MPs Scott Andrews and Massimo Pacetti being suspended from the Liberal caucus after Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau was informed — are now said to be very upset with how and when their story became public.
“What happened was people who had been through that very trying situation did talk to us. Our number one concern was to make sure that they got the help they needed and that their wishes were respected,” Mulcair said Thursday in Whitby.
“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. That was their request to us.”
Trudeau, though, says he had no choice once the allegations made their way to him, as they did on Oct. 28, in one case directly from one of the MPs affected.
“I was, as you know, very, very diligent to not reveal the gender, the identity or even the party affiliation of the individuals making the complaint, but as a leader, I have a duty to act,” Trudeau told reporters in Alberta Thursday.
“How do you suspend two Liberal MPs and not say why?” said Liberal MP Judy Foote, the party whip who was dealing with matter last week and on Wednesday asked Commons Speaker Andrew Scheer to intervene.
Both Andrews and Pacetti deny the allegations and have expressed confidence they will be exonerated.
Trudeau said he would not speculate on why the NDP MPs came to him.
“I just know for someone to come forward directly to a party leader who is not their own means there is an expectation that there will be consequences,” Trudeau said.
The NDP is also upset they were told that Trudeau was acting on the allegations only shortly before the letter to Scheer became public, which was after rumours began spreading on Parliament Hill.
“Imagine you are one of these women and you wake up in the morning and you check Twitter and there on Twitter it says the Liberal leader is going to have a news conference about an issue that has happened to you. Imagine what that would feel like,” NDP MP Megan Leslie said Thursday.
“I cannot believe that they would come out and do this without seeking consent from these women, without asking them what they would want to do.”
NDP Whip Nycole Turmel said one of the women confided in her — without divulging many details of the allegations or the name of the Liberal MP they involved — some time ago, but did not want to pursue it further.
“She made it clear that she didn’t want anything to be done,” Turmel said Thursday. “She didn’t want to pursue. She didn’t want to put a complaint in. She just wanted some reassurance or some comfort that she had talked to someone.”
After the complaints made their way to Trudeau, according to the letter Foote sent to Scheer, both party whips met with the women.
But Turmel said neither of the women wanted to file a formal complaint and at least one of the women told Foote that she could do whatever she wanted with the information, but she did not want to be part of the process.
Turmel said she had understood Foote would discuss the next steps with her, although acknowledged she could be wrong.
Turmel said she was with one of the women when she read the news online.
“She had a breakdown,” Turmel said.
The investigation is now in the hands of the secretive Board of Internal Economy, an all-party committee that meets behind closed doors to deal with financial and administrative issues involving the House of Commons.
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May said given the complainants’ wish to remain anonymous, that might be the best place for it.
“If you were going to find a deeper, darker, less transparent place for anything to be investigated, you couldn’t do better anywhere on this planet than to go to the Board of Internal Economy,” May said Thursday.
Its members are Turmel, Scheer, Government House leader Peter Van Loan, Conservative MPs Stella Ambler and John Duncan, NDP MP Philip Toone and Liberal MP Dominic LeBlanc.
The committee is expected to tackle this issue at its Nov. 25 meeting.