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Politics NDP, Liberal leaders split on harassment claims review

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau says House of Commons Speaker Andrew Scheer is best-suited to arrange a third-party review. Mr. Scheer deferred to the Liberals and NDP, while NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair said Wednesday his preference was for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Mr. Trudeau and himself to find a way forward.

Adrian Wyld/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Political leaders on Parliament Hill are divided on how to handle harassment and misconduct allegations against two MPs – though one of the MPs making an allegation has laid out how she would like to proceed.

The stalemate is largely over who should take the lead in organizing any sort of third-party investigation into the allegations against suspended Liberal MPs Scott Andrews and Massimo Pacetti, each accused of separate misconduct involving separate female NDP MPs.

One of those two NDP MPs revealed this week she'd consider taking part in a third-party investigation.

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That MP, as well as Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, say House of Commons Speaker Andrew Scheer is best-suited to arrange a third-party review. Mr. Scheer deferred to the Liberals and NDP, while NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair said Wednesday his preference was for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Mr. Trudeau and himself to find a way forward.

"Instead of passing this back and forth like a hot potato, take the concrete proposal that's on the table, sit down together and start trying to come up with a solution to deal with this," Mr. Mulcair said on Wednesday.

One of the two NDP MPs told The Globe this week that "yes, probably" she would take part in a third-party investigation, so long as it is confidential. The MP also told The Globe that she'd be willing to speak with the man she accuses of wrongdoing, Mr. Pacetti, about the matter so long as they were not alone in the room. She is seeking an apology from him, and for him to seek counselling.

The MP, whom The Globe is not identifying, alleges she and Mr. Pacetti had sex without her "explicit consent." Mr. Pacetti denies any wrongdoing and has said he won't discuss details in the media.

The NDP MP's comments this week triggered the new round of questions of how to proceed.

Mr. Trudeau shares the view of the NDP MP.

"We believe that the Speaker's office is the best place to launch an independent, confidential third party process in this situation, and we are hopeful that that is exactly what's going to happen," he said, later suggesting he believed such a process was imminent.

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Mr. Scheer's office, however, gave no signal it was going to take the lead on the matter. Mr. Scheer has previously said external experts are available to the Liberal and NDP whips should they request them.

"The Whips of the parties have a responsibility to advise the Members concerned of these resources, and ensure that they avail themselves of these resources if they seek resolution of this matter," Heather Bradley, a spokeswoman for Mr. Scheer, said in a statement Wednesday.

The NDP has said it will respect the wishes of its two MPs, the alleged victims in the matter.

NDP Whip Nycole Turmel has written to Mr. Scheer, asking for more detail on how any such third-party investigation would work. However, Mr. Mulcair on Wednesday said he'd prefer if party leaders take the lead. He's written Mr. Trudeau and Mr. Harper requesting a meeting, and said Wednesday he had received no reply.

Since the matter erupted this month, Parliament has brought in interim measures to handle harassment cases and has tasked a committee to come up with permanent ones. The Conservatives have put in their own interim measures and hired a Toronto lawyer to handle any such cases that arise.

Conservative MP Peter Goldring weighed in Wednesday, saying in a statement the accused men were suspended "without due process" and made vague reference to accusers who "hide behind a cloak of anonymity, which conceals their shameful indiscretion and complicity." Mr. Goldring did not respond to requests for clarification.

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The second NDP MP has not said she'd participate in any formal process – leaving it unclear how the allegations involving Mr. Andrews will be settled. He has said he will be cleared of what he called "harassment" allegations.

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