Two Liberal MPs suspended over allegations of personal misconduct

Liberal whip Judy Foote writes to Speaker about two Liberal MPs alleged to have engaged in ‘personal misconduct’

<p>The chamber of the House of Commons is seen during Question Period Wednesday March 27, 2013 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld</p>

Adrian Wyld/CP

Two Liberal MPs—Scott Andrews and Massimo Pacetti—have been suspended from the Liberal caucus pending the investigation of allegations of personal misconduct. Liberal whip Judy Foote wrote to the Speaker today to report “two unrelated allegations of personal misconduct made by two members of Parliament against two members of the Liberal caucus.”

“Pending resolution of this matter, the two members who are the subject of the allegations have been instructed that, effectively immediately, they will not sit as members of the Liberal caucus,” Foote writes.

Foote says she has spoken with both MPs and that they both deny the allegations made against them.

Foote’s letter is available in its entirety here.

Update 1:01pm. The text of a news release from the Speaker’s office.

The Honourable Andrew Scheer, Speaker of the House of Commons and Chair of the Board of Internal Economy, was advised of two allegations of personal misconduct this morning by letter from Ms. Judy Foote, Liberal Whip.

Speaker Scheer is seized with the issue and takes the matter very seriously. He 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 Speaker has also directed that the matter be taken up at the Board of Internal Economy at the earliest available opportunity.

Update 1:12pm. A partial transcript of NDP leader Thomas Mulcair’s statement to reporters after the NDP caucus meeting today.

We are deeply saddened by these serious allegations. Members of Parliament, from all parties, have to take these matters seriously …

Here on Parliament Hill and in every workplace, women have a right to be in a secure work environment. Everyone who works in these places has a right to be in a secure work environment free of harassment. We want to make sure that all parties work on these issues and I think that is something that we should do together to show that is something on which we all agree…

For obvious reasons, to respect the privacy of all concerned, I won’t be making any other statements right now.

Update 1:21pm. A transcript of Liberal leader Justin Trudeau’s statement to reporters after the meeting of the Liberal caucus this afternoon.

Earlier today I informed the Speaker of the House of Commons that I have suspended Massimo Pacetti and Scott Andrews from the Liberal party caucus pending the outcome of an investigation.

These two Members of Parliament have been accused of serious personal misconduct by Members of Parliament from another party. In one of the cases, that information was conveyed to me personally and directly by one of the affected MPs from another party on October 28th. Immediately I directed our whip, Judy Foote, to make her counterpart in the other party aware of the allegations that had been conveyed to me. She did so promptly.

On October 30th she met with the two affected MPs of the other party and their whip. During the course of that meeting, both MPs confirmed the personal misconduct allegations against Mr. Pacetti and Mr. Andrews. Mr. Pacetti and Mr. Andrews deny the allegations.

Given the seriousness of the allegations, i have suspended the MPs from our caucus and have asked the Speaker of the House of Commons to investigate further and to resolve the matter.

I am aware of how difficult it is for people to come forward. I believe strongly that those of us in positions of authority have a duty to act upon allegations of this nature. It’s 2014. We have a duty to protect and encourage individuals in these situations to come forward. The action must be fair, but decisive. It must be sensitive to all affected parties, but recognizing how difficult it is to do so, it must give the benefit of the doubt to those who come forward.

In closing, let me say that like workplaces across this country, Parliament needs clear guidelines and procedures for dealing with allegations of serious personal misconduct of this nature. It would be to the benefit of all who earn the privilege of sitting in this House of Commons and all Canadians who look to us for leadership.

Update 4:06pm. A statement from Scott Andrews.

Today, Judy Foote MP sent a letter to the Speaker of the House of Commons requesting an independent third-party to investigate an allegation of harassment.

While I understand there is an established process to deal with harassment between Members of Parliament and staff, there is no process to deal with allegations between MPs themselves, and therefore I encourage the Speaker or Board of Internal Economy to establish an appropriate process without delay. I believe that our

Parliament needs to be a workplace free of harassment, for both staff and MPs

I intend to fully cooperate with answering any and all questions from an independent third-party investigator. However, it would not be appropriate for me to answer questions prior to a non-partisan process being established and being provided with the specifics of the allegation. I am confident such a process will find that no harassment has occurred.

As a Member of Parliament, I will continue to work for my constituents throughout this process, both in Avalon and in Parliament.

Update 4:59pm. A statement from Massimo Pacetti.

At 9:30 this morning I was informed by Justin Trudeau, Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, that I have been suspended from caucus, based on allegations against me of “personal misconduct.”

I have not been provided with the specific details of the allegations that led to this suspension. House Speaker Andrew Scheer has been asked to conduct an independent investigation, with which I intend to cooperate fully, and which I am confident will exonerate me.

Until such time, I will sit in the House of Commons as an independent Member, and continue to represent the citizens of my riding of Saint-Léonard / Saint-Michel, which I have represented with integrity and dedication since May 2002.