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Blondin-Andrew still not talking

Police say no reason to start investigation into MP's actions

Tara Kearsey
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Aug 05/02) - Western Arctic Liberal MP Ethel Blondin-Andrew says she has been advised by her lawyer to refrain from commenting on the nature of her conversation with the mother of an alleged sexual assault victim.

The mother of the 18-year-old told Yellowknifer last month Blondin-Andrew had pressured her to not press criminal charges against Michel Chretien, the prime minister's son.

Blondin-Andrew, a junior cabinet minister in the Chretien government, issued a statement July 31 stating it is her "practice to respond to every constituent in a discreet and confidential manner."

Blondin-Andrew said in her statement that in this situation, she responded to a call from one of her constituents.

"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.

In response to Blondin-Andrew's statement, 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 Ottawa-based lawyer, Pat Santini.

Santini then contacted Yellowknifer, stating he had "advised the minister not to respond to the questions posed to her in your letter of July 31, 2002."

The questions Yellowknifer posed asked Blondin-Andrew to confirm whether she had discussed the complaint against Michel Chretien with the mother of the victim, how many times she called the mother and whether she spoke to Prime Minister Jean Chretien before or after speaking with the mother.

Santini also advised Blondin-Andrew that she not confirm if the mother asked her to return the call or if instead the mother asked that her message be passed on to the Prime Minister's Office in Ottawa.

But 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.

But RCMP Staff Sgt. Tom Steggles in Yellowknife says the statement given by the mother of the victim to police did not indicate any reason to commence an investigation into Blondin-Andrew's behaviour.

"There was no suggestion of anything criminal, of some sort of tampering, intimidation, nothing like that," said Steggles.