Independent Member of Parliament Marwan Tabbara faced an internal investigation into sexual harassment allegations made against him during the 2019 federal election. The allegations included inappropriate touching and unwelcome sexual comments directed at a female staffer.

Claims about inappropriate behaviour involving Tabbara and a female staffer were reported to the Liberal party multiple times over the past five years, reported CBC. The source spoke anonymously in June 2020, citing fears of being blacklisted within Liberal circles that negatively impacted their careers.

Despite Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's zero-tolerance policy on sexual misconduct in the workplace, the party approved Tabbara as a Liberal candidate in 2019. The decision to approve his candidacy took over six months to make — an unusually long period for an incumbent.

Before becoming prime minister, Trudeau said he was "unequivocal" about ensuring a process, accountability and "zero tolerance" for harassment and intimidation. "We have more to do, all of us, to make sure Canada is free from harassment and intimidation, all of us."

As the former chair of the Commons committee on international human rights, Tabbara left Liberal caucus in June 2020 after his arrest by Guelph Police on April 10 for a different incident.

Asked whether Liberals would boot a candidate facing sexual misconduct allegations, Trudeau said every situation is different and needs to have a proper process. "Absolutely," Canadians need to know their reps aren't known to show disrespect misbehaviour or serious allegations.

Tabbara was also charged with criminal harassment, assault, break and enter and committing an indictable offence last year. A court order bans the publication of details of the allegations. His hearing is set for September 1.

Tabbara continues to work as an Independent MP.

The anonymous source said the party did not take the alleged sexual misconduct seriously until shortly before reports by the media, according to the source.

The source argued that Trudeau's staff members did not report sexual harassment up the chain and failed to meet his stated zero-tolerance policy on this kind of misconduct.

The allegation investigation is the likely reason for the delay in approving Tabbara to run as a Liberal in the 2019 election.

In June 2020, Trudeau said he was continually informed of investigations into allegations against Liberal MPs. However, he did not divulge what he was told about Tabbara's case or why Tabbara was approved as a candidate.

"Whenever there are allegations against members of the Liberal Party, part of the process is for the leader to be informed," he said. "At the same time, the process that kicks in is a rigorous process that has been established to ensure that every single allegation or complaint around misconduct is appropriately dealt with, that there are conclusions and next steps and recommendations that are fulfilled."

Trudeau added: "We take every single case extremely seriously," but couldn't comment because of confidentially.

The Liberal Party has a "Respectful Workplace Policy" in place for all candidates, staff and volunteers to prevent harassment in the workplace and on the campaign trail.

Senior party communications director Braeden Caley said the party does not confirm or comment on the specifics of complaints out of respect for the confidentiality, privacy and safety of those involved.

"Based on extensive consultation with experts and with the aim of ensuring that individuals always feel safe coming forward with their stories, it is not the Liberal Party's place to breach that confidentiality," he said.

Caley added that everyone in a democracy should feel safe and respected, and that the Liberal Party takes workplace safety very seriously.

If claims are substantiated, the policy stipulates that the consequences include a warning, suspension or termination of employment. There are also non-disciplinary options available — an apology, mediation or additional training.

The Liberals also launched a new online training program on what constituted harassment, how to create a safe campaign environment and report incidents. Caley called it a "first of its kind for a Canadian political party."