Nfld. & Labrador

Judy Foote says no process in place for MP harassment allegations

The Liberal whip and MP for southern Newfoundland said she was surprised to learn there's no process in place to deal with harassment claims between MPs.
Liberal MP and party whip Judy Foote said she approached the NDP's whip last week, when she learned of the harassment allegations against MPs Scott Andrews and Massimo Pacetti, to see if they could find a resolution. (CBC)

Judy Foote, the Liberal whip and MP for the southern Newfoundland riding of Random-Burin-St. George's, said she was surprised to learn that there's no process in place to deal with harassment claims between MPs.

Meanwhile, the leader of the Newfoundland and Labrador Liberals said he supports federal party leader Justin Trudeau's decision to suspend two MPs admist the allegations.

MP Scott Andrews, who represents the eastern Newfoundlland riding of Avalon, and Quebec MP Massimo Pacetti were suspended from the Liberal caucus for what the party calls "serious allegations of personal misconduct" involving two NDP MPs.

After learning of the allegations from Trudeau, Foote approached the NDP's whip last week to see if they could find a resolution.

But she said while there's a process in place to deal with harassment between MPs and staff, it doesn't exist for complaints between MPs.

"It was really important to find out if a process existed, where we could direct this, to be dealt with by a neutral party. There wasn't," she told CBC News. 

"So that's why I've written to the Speaker asking that such a process be initiated as quickly as possible."

In a letter that was sent to the Speaker of the House of Commons yesterday, Foote requested an independent, third-party investigation into the harassment allegations.

Both Andrews and Pacetti deny the accusations.

In a statement released late Wednesday afternoon, Andrews said he will co-operate with the outside investigator.

"I intend to fully cooperate with answering any and all questions from an independent third-party investigator," it reads.

"I am confident such a process will find that no harassment has occurred. 

Andrews said he will continue to work for his constituents while the investigation takes place.

'Trudeau did the right thing,' Ball says

Meanwhile, Newfoundland and Labrador Liberal Leader Dwight Ball said he was disappointed to hear the news of the harassment allegations against two MPs on Wednesday.

"I believe in this case, the leader, Justin Trudeau, took the appropriate action, and he was decisive and made the immediate decision to suspend the two MPs," he said.

"We have two MPs who are associated with these accusations... Mr. Trudeau did the right thing. Of course, there's zero tolerance for that within the Liberal Party, both provincially and federally. So, the right decision was made."

Constituents surprised by Andrews's suspension

In Conception Bay South, the largest town in Andrews's riding, many say they're surprised he's been suspended from the federal Liberal caucus.

"They're still allegations," said Christine Butler. "And if it's deemed that there is anything to it, then there is also the law, the courts, and everyone is innocent until proven otherwise."

Dan Farrell said the accusations require more investigation.

"If he gets suspended for doing something wrong, that's fine. But I don't think he [has] done anything wrong," he said. 

"They should investigate it before they [did] anything with it first."

Others were in shock.

"I can't believe it," said Roxanne Earles. "I don't see him as a person like that."