No regrets in expelling MPs for alleged sexual misconduct: Trudeau
Michelle Zilio, CTVNews.ca
Published Sunday, January 4, 2015 10:08AM EST
Last Updated Monday, April 6, 2015 10:26AM EDT
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau says he has no regrets about his handling of the alleged sexual misconduct of two of his former MPs.
In a year-end interview with CTV's Question Period, Trudeau defended his decision late last year to kick Scott Andrews and Massimo Pacetti out of his caucus following allegations of sexual misconduct by two unidentified female NDP MPs.
"I have no regrets. I think it's important that a workplace like Parliament … highlights that in 2014, intimidation and harassment simply will not be tolerated," he said.
Trudeau's comments come amid questions about the fairness of his decision to expel the MPs before an investigation was complete.
While House of Commons Speaker Andrew Scheer has suggested a third party step in to deal with the matter, no leadership has been taken in that process. And although a new harassment policy was approved by the secretive Board of Internal Economy late last year, it does not cover complaints between MPs.
Although Trudeau said he hopes all parties will avail themselves to the third-party process, he is also relying on Toronto-based human rights lawyer Cynthia Petersen to investigate the allegations.
Pacetti and Andrews have said very little since their suspensions, beyond provided statements, triggering questions about their political futures. Trudeau refused to speculate as to whether the Liberal Party would welcome Andrews and Pacetti back if the allegations turned out to be false.
Continued opposition to fighter jets in the fight against ISIS
The Liberal leader also said he does not regret opposing the Conservative government's decision to send Canadian CF-18 fighter jets to support the U.S.-led mission against the Islamic State in Iraq.
He said the Liberal Party still believes that while Canada should play a "significant role" in the fight against ISIS, it would rather the country focus on supporting and training Iraqi troops, providing medical and airlift support, and doing more on the humanitarian front, especially for refugees.
The day of the Ottawa shooting
Trudeau recalled his experience during the attack on Parliament Hill last October, including a ten-hour lockdown in his office. A few floors below, Prime Minister Stephen Harper allegedly alleged hid in a closet moments after the shooter rampaged the Hall of Honour. While Trudeau was hesitant to judge Harper's move, he recalled a lesson from his father, the late former prime minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau.
"I think it's hard to know how one deals in situations of confrontation until you're actually in there, so I'm not going to speculate on what I would do," said Trudeau. "My father raised us to step toward trouble rather than to step away from it."
As Canada heads into a federal election year, Trudeau, like his counterparts, faces questions about his party's platform on major issues, especially the economy. While the Conservatives have unveiled their proposed tax cuts for families and the NDP their intention to focus on childcare and a higher minimum wage, the Liberals' economic platform is not as clear.
Trudeau again emphasized his focus on the middle class, including investments in infrastructure and education, but refused to provide further details. He said the party is still busy consulting Canadians and experts, and will unveil its plans closer to the election.
"An electoral platform comes out at election time or just before, and that's we're going to do."
The natural resources file will also be a hot one in the upcoming election, currently scheduled for Oct. 19.
While Trudeau has made it clear that he supports the TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline, which will transport Alberta crude to refineries in Texas, he hasn't been as clear about the company’s Energy East project, slated to move Alberta bitumen by pipeline to Saint John, New Brunswick.
He said that while he "supports getting our resources to market … Energy East still has work to do in order to get the social license that it needs."
It also appears that Trudeau may support his Ontario counterpart in questioning the Conservative government's new prostitution law.
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne recently called for a review of the law after a Supreme Court of Canada decision found Canada's prior prostitution laws unconstitutional. Trudeau said that, like his decision to support the legalization of marijuana, the government has to make evidence-based policy decisions when it comes to prostitution.
"The Supreme Court has said that the … framework that existed was not protecting vulnerable people and women from violence and I think that's the lens we need to look at as we move forward on that difficult issue," said Trudeau.
While the new law provides some legal immunity for sex workers and still allows for the sale of sex, it criminalizes the purchase of sex. It also prohibits advertising and other forms of communication related to the sale of sex. Critics have said the law views all sex workers as victims of violence, rather than understanding the reasons for violence and exploitation of sex workers.