Scott Andrews says he won't fight to rejoin Liberal caucus in wake of harassment probe
'I have learned a great deal on the importance of personal space,' says now-Independent MP
Scott Andrews, the eastern Newfoundland MP who was ejected from the federal Liberal caucus amid allegations of sexual misconduct, says he doesn't "have the political ruthlessness and nastiness to fight" to return to the party fold.
Andrews, who was elected in 2008 and represents the riding of Avalon, addressed the independent investigation into his conduct, as well as his political future, at a news conference on Thursday.
"The past five months have been very difficult for my family," Andrews said.
Refuses to deny wrongdoing
He did not deny any wrongdoing, and said it would be up to his friends and family to determine if he was at fault.
However, Andrews said he has learned that he needs to respect personal boundaries.
"I have learned a lot about myself through the past few months, and particularly how my jovial Newfoundland friendliness can be received," Andrews told reporters.
"I have learned a great deal on the importance of personal space, diversity and the importance of the feelings of others."
I don't have the political ruthlessness and nastiness to fight.- Scott Andrews, MP
Andrews said he was content with the independent report, the contents of which have not been released publicly.
Andrews and fellow MP Massimo Pacetti, who were initially suspended from the Liberal caucus last fall, have now been permanently ousted after Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau received the results of an independent investigation he commissioned from Toronto lawyer Cynthia Petersen.
Petersen, a human rights specialist who has investigated sexual harassment complaints in the private sector, turned in her report on Pacetti and Andrews last week.
Both men were the subject of harassment allegations made by two New Democratic MPs.
Andrews 'laying down' his partisanship
One MP alleged that Pacetti had sex with her without her explicit consent.
It's also alleged that Andrews harassed another female MP.
When asked if he feared that by not addressing the allegations he was admitting wrongdoing, Andrews would only say he accepted the findings of the investigation, and wanted the matter to be over.
Andrews commented that politics in Ottawa is "fiercely partisan," and that he was "laying down his partisanship."
Andrews said he would have no objections to the executive summary of the report being released publicly, but said it’s "Mr. Trudeau's report."
When asked if he felt he was treated fairly, Andrews said the process was "frustrating and troublesome," but said he's not mean-spirited and is not interested in a witch hunt.
As for his own political future, Andrews said he will continue to serve as an independent MP, and will decide in the coming weeks and months whether he will seek re-election.
"My wife and family will decide together," he said.
Putting family first
Andrews said he enjoyed his time in the Liberal caucus, but acknowledged it would be "difficult to take an equal place ... after all that has happened."
He said several media leaks relating to the investigation, regardless of the source, "makes re-establishing a bond of trust even more difficult."
Andrews said the matter has caused "great stress" for him, his wife and their two young sons.
"This is a personal decision, putting me and my family first," he said.
Trudeau says matter now closed
Trudeau issued a statement Thursday afternoon thanking Petersen for her "exemplary work" and noting that he felt the matter was now closed.
He also said he accepts the decisions of Andrews and Pacetti to sit as Independent MPs and to not seek the Liberal nominations in their respective ridings.
Sources told CBC News on Wednesday that the two MPs were ousted from the caucus for good.
Trudeau also said the party will independently initiate training for all its staff and caucus members aimed at improving workplace safety and protecting those who work on Parliament Hill from harassment
“We need to protect and encourage anyone who comes forward with allegations of this nature," the statement read.