Hunter Tootoo evades questions about alleged sexual relationship with staff member

Hunter Tootoo, Nunavut MP and former fisheries minister, evaded questions this morning about allegations he had an inappropriate relationship with a female junior staff member.

'My issue was with alcohol,' says Nunavut MP and former cabinet minister

Nunavut MP Hunter Tootoo is seen at the CBC studio in Iqaluit in October 2015. (Sima Sahar Zerehi/CBC)

Hunter Tootoo, Nunavut MP and former fisheries minister, evaded questions this morning about allegations he had an inappropriate relationship with a female junior staff member.

Tootoo abruptly resigned his cabinet post and stepped down from the Liberal caucus late in May to seek treatment for alcohol addiction.

A Globe and Mail report Thursday cited anonymous sources who say Tootoo was involved in an inappropriate sexual relationship with a staff member.

In an interview with Kevin Kablutsiak on CBC Nunavut's morning show Qulliq, Tootoo did not directly address questions about the allegations.

"I know that there's lots of rumours and allegations out there," he said.

"The fact of the matter is that I recognize that my issue was with alcohol, and there's been some deeply personal and private issues that have haunted me, and unfortunately alcohol is a coping mechanism for dealing with trauma and I've been personally affected by those impacts."

Tell us what you think!

Help shape the future of CBC article pages by taking a quick survey.

When asked why he left the Liberal caucus when he sought treatment, while MP Seamus O'Regan did not when he sought treatment in December, he said it was a personal choice. 

"I knew that this was going to be a very difficult journey for me to get healthy and I knew I had to focus all my attention and my energy on getting healthy and that's what I chose to do.

"I've said it over and over again. It was my decision and mine alone to step away from cabinet and from caucus because I knew I needed to devote all my energy to my healing."

Tootoo also evaded questions on CBC's Northbeat Wednesday night on what prompted him to resign in May. 

Hunter Tootoo speaks with Northbeat's Randy Henderson

7 years ago
Duration 6:37
Nunavut MP Hunter Tootoo sat down with Northbeat Randy Henderson following his return to political life Wednesday after his much-publicized decision to step away and seek treatment for alcohol addiction.

In a statement Thursday, the Prime Minister's Office refused to say if it was aware of the allegations when Tootoo resigned at the end of May, repeating its best wishes for Tootoo and saying that he won't be rejoining the Liberal caucus any time soon.

With files from Kevin Kablutsiak and The Canadian Press