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Trudeau skirts questions about sexual harassment investigation into former Liberal MP

Marwan Tabbara joins a number of other Liberal MPs and operatives accused of sexual harassment since Trudeau was elected.

The Liberal Party of Canada approved the candidacy of MP Marwan Tabbara prior to the 2019 election despite launching an internal investigation into sexual harassment allegations against him.

When questioned by reporters on his knowledge of sexual harassment allegations made against Tabbara, Trudeau failed to answer the question directly. 

“We always ensure that there is a rigorous process in place whenever there are any sorts of allegations brought forward.  We make sure that all the steps are followed, that the conclusions are adhered to, that the recommendations are fulfilled, and of course that confidentiality, which is so important in this situation and in all of these situations, is respected,” said Trudeau. 

“That was the commitment I’ve made to Canadians. It is the commitment that all members of the Liberal party make.”

The disgraced Liberal MP, who has since been ejected from the party’s caucus, appeared before a court today regarding several serious charges. Tabbara is currently being charged with assault, breaking and entering to commit an indictable offence and criminal harassment. 

Tabbara was arrested for his alleged crimes on April 10 but the incident did not become public knowledge until earlier this month when Global News reported on it. 

When questioned about Tabbara on June 8, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau claimed he had no knowledge of the charges prior to the report. 

“It is certainly disappointing as a party leader, that the individual in question never chose to inform the party, of which he was a part of, of these charges,” said Trudeau on Friday. 

“I will let the police and the prosecutors in this case speak for themselves.”

According to CBC News, the party was investigating allegations going all the way back to 2015. Among the accusations directed against Tabbara by a female staffer, including sexual comments and inappropriate touching. 

The Liberal investigation found that some of the allegations were true but it is unknown whether Tabarra was reprimanded for his actions. 

Tabbara joins a number of other Liberal MPs and operatives accused of sexual harassment since Trudeau was elected. 

In 2015, MPs Massimo Pacetti and Scott Andrews were kicked out of the Liberal caucus over accusations of harassment made by two NDP MPs. 

In 2016 and 2017, MPs Darshan Kang and Hunter Tootoo, as well as the PMO deputy director of operations Claude-Éric Gagné, were also accused of inappropriate behaviour or sexual harassment.

In January 2018, MP Kent Hehr was also forced to resign from cabinet over sexual harassment allegations made against him. 

In 2018, the prime minister promised that under his leadership the Liberal Party would have a zero-tolerance policy with regard to sexual harassment complaints. 

Trudeau himself was accused inappropriately groping a woman in 2018. The alleged incident took place several years earlier in 2010. Former journalist Rose Knight confirmed that Trudeau had touched her inappropriately during a music festival that year. 

“The incident referred to in the editorial did occur, as reported. Mr. Trudeau did apologize the next day. I did not pursue the incident at the time and will not be pursuing the incident further. I have had no subsequent contact with Mr. Trudeau, before or after he became Prime Minister,” said Knight. 

“That’s the whole conversation we have to be having around this. People experience things differently and we have to be more thoughtful and that’s a big part of the collective awakening we have to have,” said the self-proclaimed male feminist in 2018. 

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