Sex without "explicit consent" and a "continuing process" of harassment make up the misconduct allegations that led to the suspension of two Liberal MPs earlier this month, according to one MP involved – a woman who is calling on House of Commons Speaker Andrew Scheer to set up a confidential, third-party investigation.
The New Democrat MP, who spoke to The Globe and Mail on Tuesday on the condition she not be identified, said she approached Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau last month, telling him about an alleged case of misconduct involving another female NDP MP and then-Liberal MP Scott Andrews.
That triggered meetings in which she later detailed her own allegation, saying she and then-Liberal MP Massimo Pacetti had sex in an Ottawa hotel room earlier this year even though she did not give "explicit consent."
Mr. Trudeau suspended the men from his caucus, citing "serious personal misconduct" and prompting a high-profile discussion about harassment on Parliament Hill. Until this week, the nature of the allegations was unclear. Both men say they were not told details of the accusations.
The Globe is publishing details because it believes it is in the public interest for Canadians to know the allegations, given that they involve elected officials. None of the allegations have been proven, no criminal probe has been launched, and neither of the women involved approached the police.
Both men deny any wrongdoing. Mr. Pacetti said on Tuesday that "there is no way to evaluate the veracity of the claims being made" and that he, too, hopes for a third-party investigation. "I reaffirm my innocence," he said.
The NDP MP said she played on a sports team with Mr. Pacetti and that after a team event in March, Mr. Pacetti invited her to his hotel room for a drink. "We do not have real homes [in Ottawa], so it's not abnormal to go to a hotel room," the MP said.
Once inside, she sat in a chair while Mr. Pacetti sat on the bed, she said, adding that she had been drinking but was not drunk.
"At one point, he pointed to the part beside him, of the bed, and said come here... I just said, no, I'm really fine on my chair," she said. She then went to the washroom "to try to think what to do, to leave," she said.
"I was just trying to think, to think what I will do, but it was clear at that point I didn't want to have sex with him. And, in my head, he wanted to have sex." She decided to leave, and went back into the room, past Mr. Pacetti, she said.
"He just grabbed me when I passed near to him, and then we had sex with no explicit consent from me. I froze, in fact," said the MP, who explained she was a victim of assault in the past. "...It was late, I was tired… It makes you unable to think really fast, losing control of how to react."
The NDP MP provided a condom and said she did not say yes or no to Mr. Pacetti's advances. Initiatives launched in Canada in recent years, including at universities and by police forces, have stressed the importance of explicit consent as part of so-called "yes means yes" campaigns.
After intercourse, the NDP MP said, she dressed and left the hotel. She was in pain for three days afterward, she said, but chose not to come forward. "Sometimes talking about it gives you more trouble than trying to deal with it on your own with other medical support," she said.
She raised the other case with Mr. Trudeau days after high-profile accusations surfaced against CBC host Jian Ghomeshi, who faces several allegations of abuse but has said anything he did was consensual. The MP said she told Mr. Trudeau about the allegations involving Mr. Andrews first because it had been "a continuing process."
Mr. Andrews did not return messages seeking comment on Tuesday. The Canadian Press reported on Tuesday the allegations against him stem from an advance that was rebuffed by the second NDP MP, and subsequent verbal comments. Lawyer Chris MacLeod, representing Mr. Andrews, said in an e-mail to The Canadian Press that the MP cannot "respond to an unknown allegation."
The NDP MP interviewed says she never confronted Mr. Pacetti about that night, and has spoken with him only briefly since. She wants an apology from him, and for him to have counselling, but not prosecution. She criticized Mr. Trudeau for coming forward.
"I think they just tried to avoid some kind of political backlash than just having a responsible discussion of what we could do together," she said. Mr. Trudeau has said he had no choice but to act.
Mr. Trudeau on Tuesday declined to comment on specifics of the allegations, saying he did not "want to get into this."
The next steps are unclear. The NDP MP said she believes it is up to Mr. Scheer, the Speaker, to set up a third-party investigative process. Asked if she would participate, she said: "Yeah, if the process is absolutely confidential, yes, probably."
Mr. Scheer has said it is up to the Liberal and NDP whips to deal with the allegations, while Mr. Trudeau said the NDP MPs should come forward formally. If they do not, Mr. Trudeau said, the Liberals are considering an "alternative" way to look into the allegations "so that there is a fair process in this situation."