Parliament Hill harassment discussed in secret meeting
Process for dealing with allegations against 2 Liberal MPs under discussion at all-party committee
A committee of MPs met behind closed doors to discuss the process for dealing with allegations of personal misconduct by MPs Scott Andrews and Massimo Pacetti, who were kicked out of the Liberal Party caucus nearly two weeks ago.
The Board of Internal Economy, which deals with House of Commons finances and administration, met for the first time since Liberal whip Judy Foote referred the allegations to House Speaker Andrew Scheer.
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Foote asked Scheer to "establish a process for dealing with these individual complaints" and asked that the board be "urgently seized of the matter."
The allegations were made by two New Democrat MPs and brought to Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau's attention by one of them. Neither woman has so far gone public with her complaint and the NDP has complained that it didn't expect Trudeau to make public the allegations. The women are said to be uncomfortable with how the news came to light.
The House has no mechanism to deal with allegations made by MPs against other MPs, though there is a policy for managing complaints by staff employed by the House. Staff employed by MPs — those who work directly for politicians in administrative or policy roles — are not covered by a human resources policy either, although the NDP staff are unionized.
Scheer's office has offered the same resources available to House staff to the MPs should they make an official complaint.
The New Democrat MPs have not launched a formal complaint about the allegations.
Reporting to caucus this week
Government whip John Duncan suggested the board may look to the Senate's policy, which covers everyone who works there, as a starting point.
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"I'm not sure what the administration will bring forward, but we certainly have our ideas," Duncan said in an interview with CBC News.
"They have a process all set up. I had my first look at it on Friday last week, and it covers a lot of the territory that we would need to cover. So we have examples to work from," he said.
Scheer, as Speaker, chairs the Board of Internal Economy. The committee includes Duncan, as well as:
- Conservative MP Stella Ambler.
- Liberal House leader Dominic LeBlanc.
- NDP deputy House leader Philip Toone.
- NDP whip Nycole Turmel.
- Government House leader Peter Van Loan.
Duncan said he expects the board will have something to say "quickly."
"This is time-sensitive," he said.
"I would think out of [Tuesday's meeting] we'll have a strong sense of direction, and I'll be reporting to my caucus on Wednesday."
Duncan said it's important people can work without being harassed in any way, whether it's sexually or otherwise.
"In the whip's job ... I've been asked to be involved in certain circumstances. And that is my bottom line: that it's not acceptable, it's not going to happen. We will protect anyone that feels they are in a position where they are being harassed," he said.