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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, alongside Liberal MPs (from left) Marwan Tabbara, Bardish Chagger and Raj Saini meet with Region of Waterloo mayors on April 17, 2019. Saini is facing four allegations of unwanted sexual advances or inappropriate comments, however Trudeau is showing support for his Liberal candidate.Christopher Katsarov/The Canadian Press

Justin Trudeau is standing by a Liberal candidate facing allegations of inappropriate behaviour toward women.

The Liberal Leader was asked by a reporter on Tuesday about Raj Saini, a two-term MP who is running for re-election in the Southwestern Ontario riding of Kitchener Centre. CBC News reported that concerns were raised to Mr. Trudeau’s office dating back to 2015 about Mr. Saini’s behaviour toward young female staffers, which included four allegations of unwanted sexual advances or inappropriate comments. The Globe and Mail has not independently verified the allegations.

Mr. Saini said in a statement he has never acted inappropriately toward staff or constituents. He said he was only made aware of one allegation and the individual chose not to pursue a formal or informal complaint process.

“Upon learning of this, I insisted an independent third-party review of my office take place through the House of Commons. The outcome of that review, which was completed in June, 2020, found that nothing arose regarding concerns of harassment in the office,” Mr. Saini said. “Protecting my staff and ensuring they are respected is not something I take lightly. As you can appreciate, I can’t discuss specifics regarding this matter, in order to protect the privacy of all those involved.”

His campaign also released a statement of support from unnamed members of his team. A spokeswoman for the House of Commons said such a process for a third-party review would be kept confidential.

At a campaign stop in Kanata, a suburb of Ottawa, Mr. Trudeau said everyone deserves a safe workplace. He said that’s why his government enacted stronger measures for harassment complaints in the public service and in Parliament to “demonstrate the leadership that ensures that people have a right [to], and actually experience, safe working environments.”

Mr. Trudeau said Mr. Saini has shared details “of all the processes that have been undertaken in his office” to respond to any concerns or issues raised.

“We know that it is extremely important to take any allegations seriously, which we certainly have and we always will, because everyone deserves a safe workplace,” Mr. Trudeau said.

CBC News reported that the complaints against Mr. Saini date back to the Liberals’ holiday party in December, 2015. The news outlet said four female staffers reported to a senior Liberal staffer that Mr. Saini, along with former Liberal MP Marwan Tabbara, were allegedly acting inappropriately. In June, 2020, Mr. Tabbara resigned from the Liberal caucus after he was charged with assault, breaking and entering, and harassment.

A Liberal source who was at the 2015 Christmas party told The Globe that several staff reported Mr. Saini and Mr. Tabbara were acting inappropriately and being touchy with young female staff. The source said a senior Liberal raised the concerns with Mr. Trudeau’s chief of staff, Katie Telford, but Ms. Telford later said there was nothing further to investigate.

The Globe is not identifying the source because they were not permitted to disclose the internal government matters.

Asked about Ms. Telford’s involvement, Alex Lawrence, a spokesman for the Liberal campaign, said “we have no records or knowledge of this matter.” Ms. Telford did not respond to a request for comment.

The Liberals did not have a formal complaints process for political staff at the time of the Christmas party in 2015, a senior Liberal source said. One was set up in 2017, when the Prime Minister’s Office launched the Harassment Resolution and Investigation Office. It is within the PMO and led by Brett Thalmann, who is executive director for planning, administration and people, and responsible for human resources. The source said junior staffers do not trust the internal complaints process because the person who is responsible for their career advancement also manages complaints.

The Globe is not identifying the source because they were not permitted to discuss internal matters.

On Monday, the Conservative Party removed a Nova Scotia candidate after allegations of sexual misconduct against him surfaced online. The former candidate denies wrongdoing.

Asked about the Liberal Party’s policy for candidates facing allegations of sexual misconduct, Mr. Trudeau said on Monday that every situation is different and needs to be addressed with the “proper process.”

“Canadians deserve to know that the people standing up to represent them, to serve them in the House of Commons, are not people who’ve shown disrespect, or misbehaviour or are facing serious allegations,” Mr. Trudeau said.

Calgary Conservative candidate Michelle Rempel Garner accused the Liberals of covering up misconduct.

“Justin Trudeau’s past actions show that he will not act on allegations of sexual misconduct in both the Liberal Party of Canada and the federal government. He has a pattern of covering up or looking the other way on these kinds of allegations,” Ms. Rempel Garner said in a statement.

NDP candidate Lindsay Mathyssen said in a statement that Mr. Trudeau is refusing to live up to his own words and remove Mr. Saini as a candidate.

“Does Justin Trudeau not believe these young women who have bravely come forward? Does he understand the terrible message he is sending to women across the country?” she said.

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