Harassment accusations against two suspended Liberal MPs stem from one case earlier this year and another in 2013, sources say, and were revealed over the wishes of the two alleged victims – but it is unclear whether they will actually be investigated.
Two male Liberal MPs are accused of harassing two fellow MPs in unrelated cases, a fact made public by the Liberals on Wednesday. It was later confirmed the other MPs were female New Democrats, one of whom explicitly told Liberal Party whip Judy Foote that she did not want the issue publicized, sources said.
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau nonetheless announced Wednesday that the MPs accused of "personal misconduct," Scott Andrews and Massimo Pacetti, had been suspended from the Liberal caucus pending resolution of the allegations. The men have each said they're confident they'll be cleared of wrongdoing.
The NDP said Thursday the Liberal revelation – made without advance warning to the two NDP MPs – "revictimized" the women, though the Liberals didn't identify the names, gender or party of the other MPs involved.
How any investigation might proceed is unclear: As of Thursday, there was no investigation as no formal complaint had been made, one source familiar with the process said.
Instead, the Liberals asked Speaker Andrew Scheer to "establish a process for dealing with these individual complaints" – not to actually investigate them. Mr. Scheer referred that request to the Board of Internal Economy, a secretive body of MPs overseeing the rules of Parliament next due to meet on Nov. 25.
A timeline, meanwhile, is emerging of how the two NDP MPs' complaints came forward.
One was the subject of alleged harassment in 2013, sources said. That MP told at least one other MP, Liberal Scott Simms, but asked Mr. Simms to keep it in confidence, according to sources. NDP MP and caucus whip Nycole Turmel also understood some details of the allegations, but was told the victim didn't want it made public, sources said.
"I made a commitment to a dear friend a while ago, and I have to honour that commitment even today, the commitment to not talk about this publicly," Mr. Simms said Thursday.
The second female NDP MP, meanwhile, was the subject of alleged harassment earlier this year, sources said. It was that MP who came forward to Mr. Trudeau last week, with both her story and that of the 2013 incident. That brought the first NDP MP, who hadn't complained to Mr. Trudeau, "along for the ride," one source said.
Mr. Trudeau handed the issue to Ms. Foote, who met with both NDP MPs individually. The one whose case occurred in 2013 specifically told Ms. Foote she did not want the allegations made public, sources said. NDP sources said neither woman gave permission for the Liberals to act publicly on the matter.
The Liberals, however, say they needed to act and stressed they did not identify the victims.
The announcement nonetheless surprised the NDP MPs, who got no advance notice from the Liberals.
NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair said Thursday neither MP wanted their allegations made public. "Anyone who went against that, of course, would be making them become victims a second time," he told reporters.
NDP MP Megan Leslie also took aim at the Liberals' handling of the matter.
"They didn't have consent from these women, they didn't have permission from these women," Ms. Leslie said. "… some people have said, 'well, what should the Liberals have done?' They could have asked."
The timeline shows at least Mr. Simms and Ms. Turmel knew of some of the allegations before Wednesday. Mr. Trudeau also consulted fellow MPs Dominic LeBlanc, Ralph Goodale and Ms. Foote last weekend about how to proceed, sources said.
A Liberal spokeswoman said Thursday Mr. Trudeau had no choice but to act. "He was very careful not to disclose anything the individuals did not want to disclose, but he did have a responsibility to act on the information once it was presented to him," spokeswoman Kate Purchase said.