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Trudeau to decide if he'll pursue investigation into MPs suspended from caucus

December 04, 2014 - 7:40 PM

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. - Justin Trudeau is mulling next steps for handling allegations of personal misconduct against Newfoundland MP Scott Andrews and will say more soon, the Liberal leader said Thursday night.

"We are looking into a number of different next steps and we will have an announcement soon," he said in St. John's after an event to support Liberal candidate Seamus O'Regan.

"This is a very serious situation. When I was directly presented with some serious allegations of personal misconduct I had a duty to act, and that's what I did."

Asked if he'd heard other allegations about Andrews before or since suspending him from the Liberal caucus Nov. 5, Trudeau ended the scrum with reporters and walked away.

One of his media handlers had asked reporters to keep questions focused only on Trudeau's presence at an event to promote O'Regan in St. John's South-Mount Pearl. The riding has been held by NDP MP Ryan Cleary since 2011 and it's expected to be one of the more interesting races of the federal election next year.

Trudeau is in St. John's for the first time since suspending Andrews, who has represented the nearby riding of Avalon since 2008.

Many political observers have questioned the limbo Andrews and Quebec MP Massimo Pacetti, who was also booted from the Liberal caucus, have been in due to a lack of any formal process to deal with harassment claims between MPs.

Andrews, a former ethics critic, has denied through a lawyer any wrongdoing since Trudeau suspended him.

Andrews has refused further comment, but sources familiar with the complaint have told The Canadian Press in Ottawa that an unnamed NDP MP alleges he victimized her within the past six months.

The woman accusing Andrews has not spoken publicly and does not wish to file a formal complaint, according to the NDP.

The sources say the incident allegedly began at a social event on Parliament Hill before the woman, Andrews and Pacetti went from there to Pacetti's office, where they drank some wine. Pacetti eventually left, leaving Andrews and the woman alone.

The sources say the woman alleges Andrews followed her home, forced his way through her door, pushed her against a wall, groped her and ground his pelvis against her. The sources say she says she ordered him to leave and he did.

The woman further alleges that Andrews repeatedly called her a "c--kteaser" after the incident, according to the sources.

Andrews, a married father of two, has denied any misconduct and said he's confident a non-partisan process will find that no harassment occurred. But the sources say he has not given a detailed rebuttal to the woman's version of events that night.

His lawyer Chris MacLeod said last month in an email to The Canadian Press that Andrews was not provided with "any details of the internal summary or any documentation from the Liberal caucus" about the complaint against him.

"He is in no position to respond to an unknown allegation," it said.

Another unnamed NDP MP who has accused Pacetti of "sex without explicit consent" in March has said she would be willing to participate in a neutral, third-party investigation.

The Speaker of the House of Commons clarified in a letter to the NDP last week how that process might work but the party has not released the letter or said how the matter might move forward.

Pacetti has said in an email that he maintains his innocence and has refrained from speculation in the media since the allegations first surfaced.

"As with media reports of this nature, in this instance many questions remain unanswered and there is no way to evaluate the veracity of the claims being made," he has said in an email.

"I reaffirm my innocence and I will not comment on this matter in the media any further."

Follow @suebailey on Twitter.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2014
The Canadian Press

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