Hunter Tootoo’s office refuses to address allegations of inappropriate relationship

“I know there’s lots of rumours out there.”

APTN National News
OTTAWA -A spokesperson for Nunavut MP Hunter Tootoo refused to talk about new allegations the former fisheries minister had an inappropriate relationship with a staffer.

“We gave extensive interviews yesterday (Wednesday) and that is all the comment we will have,” the spokesperson said Thursday.

The comment comes after the Globe and Mail cited anonymous sources on the alleged affair.

Tootoo abruptly quit both his cabinet post and the Liberal caucus late in May to seek treatment for an alcohol problem. But the muted response of the Prime Minister’s Office fueled speculation that there was more to the story.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office isn’t commenting either.

In a statement Thursday, the PMO 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 that he won’t be rejoining the Liberal caucus any time soon.

Tootoo, who is now sitting as an Independent, met with constituents in Iqaluit on Wednesday prior to a news conference at his office.

He said he needed to seek help for an alcohol problem, and that he was dealing with “deeply personal and private issues.”

“It was completely my decision, to leave cabinet and leave caucus,” he said. “I knew I didn’t want to have any distractions, other than to devote my energy and focus on my healing, and getting better.”

His resignation came directly following the Liberal national convention in Winnipeg.

Many speculated that there was an incident at that convention which led to his resignation.

“I know there’s lots of rumours out there, and the fact of the matter is that I came to the realization that the disease of alcoholism, as a progressive disease, was affecting me in a way that I myself wasn’t happy with, and that I realized that I needed to do something and I needed help. Like anyone dealing with any addiction, you don’t really realize that until it becomes too much for you,” said Tootoo.

The way Trudeau handled Tootoo’s resignation was also a topic of interest. Contrary to how Trudeau handled Tootoo’s departure, in December 2015, Liberal MP – Seamus O’Regan – left his work on Parliament Hill to seek addictions treatment, but didn’t leave caucus and was sent off with well-wishes from Trudeau.

– with files from The Canadian Press

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