OTTAWA — New Democrat Leader Thomas Mulcair and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau have not spoken directly to each other about how to handle allegations of sexual misconduct.
They also appear to have different ideas of what to do next.
One of the two unidentified female NDP MPs who made allegations of sexual misconduct against MPs Massimo Pacetti and Scott Andrews — both suspended from the Liberal caucus Nov. 5 — told the Toronto Star she is open to participating in a confidential investigation by an independent third party.
Sources say the other NDP MP still has no plans to come forward.
Both Pacetti and Andrews maintain they did nothing wrong and have expressed confidence they will be exonerated.
While both Mulcair and Trudeau agree with the general idea of a confidential, third party investigating the matter, they currently disagree on the finer details.
Trudeau, for his part, notes that Commons Speaker Andrew Scheer has offered “external experts” to help the MPs deal with the issue and that he hopes the MPs will go through that process.
“We have said from the very beginning that we believe that the Speaker’s office is the best place to launch an independent, confidential third-party process in this situation, and we are hopeful that that is exactly what’s going to happen,” Trudeau told reporters after the Liberal weekly caucus meeting Wednesday.
“I’m not going to speculate on what needs to happen,” Trudeau said when asked about the future of the MPs he suspended from caucus, who are also at this point barred from running for the Liberals in the next federal election.
“I’m glad it looks like we’re going to be able to embark upon a rigorous third-party process,” Trudeau said.
Mulcair said he remains unclear on what exactly Scheer meant when he wrote about “external experts”.
“We’re still trying to figure out what that’s supposed to refer to,” Mulcair told reporters after the NDP weekly caucus meeting Wednesday.
NDP Whip Nycole Turmel wrote to Scheer Monday asking for more clarity.
Mulcair is also pressing the other parties to adopt his proposal for a formal workplace harassment policy for MPs and their staff, which included the suggestion to appoint an independent officer of Parliament to review complaints.
Both leaders nonetheless agree on the importance of resolving the issue.
“They’ve got other ideas. I’m very open to that. I’m not claiming to have tranquil possession of the truth on this. I want to make sure that we get a result. That’s the obligation. The obligation of means can vary. The obligation of results has to be something we all agree on,” Mulcair said.
“What is necessary is clarity of process,” Trudeau told reporters.
“And what this entire situation over the past weeks has demonstrated is the lack of process on Parliament Hill is a situation we cannot endure,” Trudeau said.
Meanwhile, Mulcair said he only learned the specific details of what is alleged to have happened between one of his Quebec MPs and Pacetti in his hotel room after reading her interview in the media Tuesday.
“I was troubled by what I read and it was the first time I heard those details,” said Mulcair.
The NDP MP, who spoke to the Star on the condition of anonymity Tuesday, had approached Trudeau Oct. 28 with allegations involving another NDP MP and Andrews.
Citing anonymous sources, The Canadian Press reported Tuesday that other NDP MP alleged Andrews followed her home after a social event, forced his way through her door and groped her, later harassing her verbally.
The NDP MP who spoke directly to Trudeau later shared her own allegations against Pacetti in a meeting with Turmel and Liberal Whip Judy Foote.
Mulcair said neither he nor Turmel knew of her allegations until that point.
While the Liberals are now hopeful at least one of the NDP MPs will participate in a third-party process after all, but in case that does not happen, they are still working to set up an alternate process to determine whether Andrews and Pacetti should be allowed back into caucus or to run as Liberal candidates.
A Liberal source said that includes bringing in an outside expert with experience investigating workplace harassment issues to sort through the extensive notes taken at the meetings with the four MPs and the party whips.