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article imageOp-Ed: Ottawa MP sex scandal kept behind closed doors, time to open up

By Marcus Hondro     Nov 30, 2014 in Politics
The ongoing sex scandal in Ottawa, if it can be called that, doesn't seem to be moving forward to a conclusion. The accusations appear to be very serious indeed but we still know less than we should; not even the names of the accusers have been released.
Trudeau suspends two MPs
This we know: two NDP female MPs have made accusations of sexual misconduct against two male Liberal MPs. In October at least one of these women went to Liberal leader Justin Trudeau and told him of the alleged misconducts.
On Nov. 5th the two men, Newfoundland and Labrador MP Scott Andrews and Quebec MP Massimo Pacetti, were suspended from their party by Mr. Trudeau. Pending investigations both now sit as Independents. Both deny wrongdoing but if the investigations do not go their way, they won't be able to run for the Liberals in the next election.
Allegations against Liberal MPs
So what did they do wrong? We don't really know and their accusers don't appear to want us to. One of the women, let's call her the Andrews Charger, hasn't spoken to media or released a statement. However, CTV News reports that sources told them the Andrews Charger claims Mr. Andrews attempted to force himself upon her.
Even without more details it seems correct to say there was a se—xual context to it. She said she rebuffed him and during a period of time afterwards - unknown if it was 10 minutes, 10 days, how long — she claimed he verbally harassed her over the incident.
The other MP, the Pacetti Charger, has spoken with media but not given permission to have her name revealed. CTV, and the Star and other media, have said the Pacetti Charger was in a hotel room alone with Mr. Pacetti when he made a pass at her.
She went into the bathroom, she says, to try and figure out a strategy. She decided to leave but was not able to because when she walked by him he grabbed her onto the bed. And yet she does not say she was unwilling at this point. She's called what happened next "sex without explicit consent."
In a meeting to hash over the details of all of this with Liberal Party whip Judy Foote and NDP Party whip Nycole Turmel, CTV reports that she "acknowledged she did not say no to sex, and that she provided a condom."
Andrews Charger stays quiet
This is all rather sordid and it's been knocking about Parliament Hill too long; that, of course, speaks to the maneuverings of each party, neither wanting to come out looking as if they have done anything wrong. But shouldn't the women be encouraged to go to the police? These charges seem serious enough to warrant their doing so.
In the case of the Andrews Charger if Mr. Andrews did force himself upon her and then verbally harass her, he should be tried criminally. And the voters of Newfoundland and Labrador must be given details so they might choose to ask him to step down, or at the least have this knowledge should he run in the next election.
But what if he's innocent? He says he is and if he is then the woman who charged him with such an offence should then be the one to be reprimanded. Perhaps even be charged, for making such allegations falsely diminishes the experiences of those women who go through sexual assaults, which is what she's describing.
The latest news is that the Liberals' investigation into Mr. Andrews and his conduct is going ahead, despite the woman accusing him refusing to take part in it, or any other investigation.
The Liberals are going to use notes taken at the meeting with party whips to form the basis of their investigation. That seems shoddy and it also seems shoddy that Mr. Andrews stands accused but has no forum in which to face his accuser.
Pacetti Charger: condom provided
In the case of the Pacetti Charger, while we need more information, if she did not say no to sex and provided a condom there is nothing to charge Mr. Pacetti with and he should be given the opportunity to clear his good name.
It is understood that consent is vital but providing the condom is just that; it is a gesture that seals the deal; indeed, it's not only saying yes, but it's a rather nice way of doing so.
Mr. Pacetti would like to get back to serving his constituents as a member of the party he, and those who voted for him, support. He is doubtless frustrated with the manner this is being handled.
“I am troubled that the complainant chose to air these allegations in the media,” he wrote in an email to CTV. “Many questions remain unanswered and there is no way to evaluate the veracity of the claims being made."
Accusations belong in court
None of this is moving forward and it is threatening to become a circus and were it not for CTV and other media, Canadians would know even less than they do. The names of these women should be made public and this should be aired in the open. The women do not wish to go to police, reports say, but it seems clear a courtroom, not Justin Trudeau's office or the office of NDP leader Thomas Mulcair, is the venue where these allegations should play out.
Because whichever way the evidence leads us, in each case there is someone to be held accountable, either a male for what may amount to sexual assault, or a female for making false accusations.
It is easy to get the impression each party now wants this to go away but this has developed a life of its own and we deserve all the details. Whatever the parties and players concerns for themselves, the needs of justice and of Canadians to have fully open government is of greater import.
This needs to end.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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