OTTAWA - The future of two MPs suspended from the Liberal caucus remains unclear after a secretive committee decided it has no mandate to develop a process for looking into complaints between parliamentarians.
“The MPs are in limbo until such time as the logjam is broken,” Government whip John Duncan said after the all-party board of internal economy wrapped up its meeting behind closed doors Tuesday.
“The board of internal economy is not empowered to do that.”
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau suspended MPs Scott Andrews and Massimo Pacetti Nov. 5 over unspecified allegations of “personal misconduct” toward two unidentified female New Democrat MPs.
Andrews and Pacetti have both denied the allegations and have expressed confidence they will be exonerated, but the way forward remains unclear.
The board of internal economy is asking another Commons committee, procedure and House affairs, to explore setting up a formal process to investigate complaints between MPs.
But Duncan said that would deal with only future cases, as the two NDP MPs have made it clear they do not wish to proceed with formal complaints.
Meanwhile, Duncan said the board has adopted interim measures that involve extending the harassment policy and resources that exist for Commons employees so that it covers MPs and their staffers, too.
That includes an informal conflict resolution process.
“They would be welcome to use that system,” Duncan said of the four MPs involved in the current case.
But it appears the two NDP MPs, who sources say remain very upset with how the situation has become public, do not want to use that either.
“They have been informed that they could get some help and that they could go through the process, but at this point, they still don’t want to put a formal complaint in,” NDP whip Nycole Turmel said Tuesday.
Trudeau told reporters he is still waiting to hear back from Commons Speaker Andrew Scheer, whom the Liberals asked to appoint a neutral third party to investigate the specific allegations.
“I will not speculate on the next possible steps,” Trudeau told reporters Tuesday.
Duncan said he has “concerns about fairness” when it comes to how to handle the allegations against the two MPs in the absence of a formal complaint.
“This is why it’s important that we move very quickly to create a process so that we don’t end up here again,” Duncan said.
“I have never seen this before and I hope never to see it again, so we do need to have a policy in place.
“The more we have a policy in place, the more pressure I think there will be on the four individuals involved to be party to such a policy.”