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MP's press release repeats denials

Confirms call to mother, denies attempt to influence

Tara Kearsey
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Aug 02/02) - Western Arctic Liberal MP Ethel Blondin-Andrew has again denied allegations she attempted to discourage a woman from pressing charges against Prime Minister Jean Chretien's adopted son, Michel.

Ethel Blondin-Andrew

Blondin-Andrew, a junior cabinet minister in the Chretien government, issued a departmental press release Wednesday stating it is her "practice to respond to every constituent in a discreet and confidential manner."

The mother of an 18-year-old told Yellowknifer last week that Blondin-Andrew had pressured her to not press criminal charges against Michel Chretien.

The woman's daughter is alleging Chretien sexually assaulted her July 15 after a night of heavy drinking.

Chretien has since been arrested and charged with sexual assault.

"In this connection, I returned a call from one of my constituents," said Blondin-Andrew in her statement.

"Any allegation by that person that I would try in any way to interfere with due process of law or try to influence that person wanting to pursue a judicial matter is completely unfounded," the statement said.

Before the mother of the victim complained to police she contacted Blondin-Andrew's constituency office in Yellowknife on July 24 and left a message for her to relay to the Prime Minister's Office in Ottawa.

Instead, Blondin-Andrew returned the call and the mother said the MP called her a total of three times that day.

In response to Blondin-Andrew's statement Wednesday, Yellowknifer faxed a series of questions to Blondin-Andrew's Office of the Secretary of State (Children and Youth) in Ottawa. Blondin-Andrew's assistant Kelly Francis agreed to pass on the questions to the MP's lawyer, Pat Santini.

By press time Thursday, Blondin-Andrew had not confirmed whether she had discussed the complaint with the mother, how many times she called the mother and whether she spoke to Prime Minister Jean Chretien.

Nor did Blondin-Andrew confirm if the mother asked her to return the call or if instead the mother asked that her message be passed on to someone connected to the Prime Minister's office in Ottawa.

Meanwhile, opposition critics are condemning Blondin-Andrew's actions and demanding she publicly explain herself.

Canadian Alliance justice critic Vic Toews and Tory justice critic Peter MacKay are requesting an RCMP investigation or explanation of Blondin-Andrew's actions.