Nunavut MP Hunter Tootoo is seen at the CBC studio in Iqaluit in October 2015. (Sima Sahar Zerehi/CBC)
This may be the missing link in the story of Hunter Tootoo's dramatic departure from his office and the Liberal caucus. Just a few months into the new Liberal government, the then Fisheries Minister was dropped like a hot potato. An alcohol problem might warrant a temporary absence from his position, or possibly even a loss of the position as happened. But being turfed from caucus indicated something more than alcohol was involved; it appears sex was the 'something more'.
The article, unfortunately, does not give the age of the staffer, only that it was a girl. Again, a relationship with a staffer probably shouldn't warrant the complete disassociation Tootoo suffered, unless the staffer was underage. But the age of consent in Canada is 16, so it is pretty unlikely that she was younger than that. So why the drama? If she was under 16, Tootoo needs to be charged with statutory rape, and the government needs to explain why it didn't report the matter to police?
There are still a few more legs on this story.
'I believe in the Trudeau government,' says Hunter Tootoo upon return to office
'We all make mistakes': Iqaluit residents on MP Hunter Tootoo's return after addiction treatment
Hunter Tootoo, Nunavut MP and former fisheries minister, evaded questions this morning about allegations he had an inappropriate relationship with a female junior staff member.
Tootoo abruptly resigned his cabinet post and stepped down from the Liberal caucus late in May to seek treatment for alcohol addiction.
A Globe and Mail report Thursday cited anonymous sources who say Tootoo was involved in an inappropriate sexual relationship with a staff member.
In an interview with Kevin Kablutsiak on CBC Nunavut's morning show Qulliq, Tootoo did not directly address questions about the allegations.
"I know that there's lots of rumours and allegations out there," he said.
"The fact of the matter is that I recognize that my issue was with alcohol, and there's been some deeply personal and private issues that have haunted me, and unfortunately alcohol is a coping mechanism for dealing with trauma and I've been personally affected by those impacts."
When asked why he left the Liberal caucus when he sought treatment, while MP Seamus O'Regan did not when he sought treatment in December, he said it was a personal choice.
And if you believe that, I am taking bids on a tropical island off the coast of Labrador.
"I knew that this was going to be a very difficult journey for me to get healthy and I knew I had to focus all my attention and my energy on getting healthy and that's what I chose to do.
"I've said it over and over again. It was my decision and mine alone to step away from cabinet and from caucus because I knew I needed to devote all my energy to my healing."
Tootoo also evaded questions on CBC's Northbeat Wednesday night on what prompted him to resign in May.
In a statement Thursday, the Prime Minister's Office refused to say if it was aware of the allegations when Tootoo resigned at the end of May, repeating its best wishes for Tootoo and saying that he won't be rejoining the Liberal caucus any time soon.