Sklavounos can't return to Liberal caucus right away, says Couillard
Published Friday, February 3, 2017 10:59AM EST
Last Updated Friday, February 3, 2017 10:24PM EST
A day after it was revealed that Gerry Sklavounos would not be charged with sexual assault, the political fate of the MNA for Laurier-Dorion remains up in the air.
Sklavounos has been on sick leave from the National Assembly since a woman accused him of sexually assaulting her in October.
The Crown decided not to lay charges.
On Friday, Liberal MNAs who had gathered for a caucus meeting were not eager to welcome Sklavounos back to the fold.
Several MNAs and cabinet ministers were asked whether he should be reinstated but all declined to say whether they would support or reject such a move.
All who were questioned said that decision would be made at a later date, away from cameras and microphones.
While Sklavounos is hoping to rejoin the caucus, Premier Couillard has said he would first want him to make a strong public statement about his views on women in the workplace before he can be welcomed back.
"His eventual reintegration into the Liberal caucus cannot be immediate or automatic," he said.
“I'd like him to say very deeply felt words about,” how he intends to treat women in the future to be considered for readmission, said the premier.
Couillard said he would also consider how Quebec women felt before ultimately making a decision on the MNA's future in the caucus.
In an open letter to Le Devoir, the alleged victim Alice Paquet spoke out, writing, "Now, in the name of unbridled sensationalism and a defence of the status quo, I see myself condemned, reduced to almost nothing."
Paquet said since she went public with the allegations, she has faced horrible comments and threats.
"Sexual assault complaints aren't taken seriously if the victim's sexual morals are considered 'too free,' or if they at first voluntarily go somewhere with the accused," she said.
Sklavounos isn’t the first politician to be ousted over unproven allegations: Two years ago, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tossed MPs Massimo Pacetti and Scott Andrews over allegations of harassment by two NDP MPs. Neither has been charged.
Last week, MNA Pierre Paradis was kicked out of the Couillard caucus after the SQ announced he is being investigated for sexual misconduct. He has also not been charged.
"This shows that the problem is wide, immense and must be confronted with all the forces involved," Paquet wrote in her letter.