Nfld. & Labrador

Justin Trudeau: Allegations against Scott Andrews won't be brushed aside

The federal Liberals announced Friday afternoon that human rights lawyer Cynthia Petersen will lead an investigation into allegations of harassment against two suspended caucus members, including Newfoundland and Labrador MP Scott Andrews.

MPs Scott Andrews and Massimo Pacetti at centre of probe

Justin Trudeau in St. John's Thursday night

8 years ago
Duration 4:07
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau answers questions about policy and Scott Andrews during a scrum Thursday night

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau says the party will soon initiate an "expert review" into allegations of harassment against two suspended caucus members, including Newfoundland and Labrador MP Scott Andrews.

During an interview Friday morning with CBC Radio's St. John's Morning Show, Trudeau said the allegations against Andrews and Montreal-area MP Massimo Pacetti will be dealt with in a manner that is both transparent and fair, and will not be swept aside.

Avalon MP Scott Andrews, shown last month at Vale's nickel-processing plant in Long Harbour, has denied any wrongdoing, and has been carrying on his duties. (Terry Roberts/CBC)

"I think it's important that we encourage and protect people who come forward with difficult allegations like this," Trudeau said.

"One of the things that is very clear to me is far too often, people don't come forward because of power dynamics and concerns.

"So we need to make sure we are protecting and encouraging people to come forward and report, and not feel victimized."

Trudeau suspended Andrews and Pacetti in early November after two female NDP MPs complained about misconduct by the two men.

Andrews has denied any wrongdoing, and has been carrying on his duties as an MP, both in his riding and in Ottawa. Pacetti has also said he believes he will be exonerated.

During a recent interview, Andrews said he planned to run in next year's federal election.

"I'm going to try to carry on as best I can and deal with this with my family and support team," Andrews told reporters in November.

Trudeau supports independent, confidential probe

Trudeau said he felt it necessary to suspend the two MPs, even though the allegations have not been proven, and the two NDP MPs have declined to formalize their complaints.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau mingled with supporters in St. John's on Thursday evening. In an interview Friday with CBC Radio's St. John's Morning Show, Trudeau said harassment allegations against Newfoundland and Labrador MP Scott Andrews, as well as Montreal-area MP Massimo Pacetti, won't be swept aside. (CBC)

"I simply suspended the two MPs, wanting to establish a process that would allow this to unfold," Trudeau said.

"Brushing it under the rug ... is not appropriate any more. We need to highlight that these things are taken seriously."

Trudeau is hopeful that an independent, confidential third-party process overseen by House of Commons Speaker Andrew Scheer will take place.

He said the Liberal Party will also take action.

"At the same time, we are looking into stepping forward with an internal expert review on the Liberal Party side ... to look at this," he said.

Trudeau began his visit to St. John's on Thursday evening by attending a campaign event for Liberal hopeful Seamus O'Regan at the Swilers Rugby Club.

He is also scheduled to address the St. John's Board of Trade on Friday afternoon.

Trudeau is campaigning hard leading up to next year's federal election.

Recent polls have put the Liberals and Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservatives in a statistical tie.

Trudeau's main message is that he plans to form a partnership with all regions of the province, including Newfoundland and Labrador.

"We have a federal government that wants to leave people on their own. That's not good enough for Newfoundland and Labrador. That's not good enough for Canadians," he said.