On Monday, the Conservatives introduced a motion in the House of Commons asking that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s chief of staff, Katie Telford, appear before the House ethics committee before the middle of April. They want her to testify, along with more than a dozen other witnesses, about charges that the Chinese government meddled in Canada’s last two federal elections.
The action comes after weeks of filibustering by the Liberals to keep Telford from appearing before the House procedure committee on the same subject.
Liberal House leader Mark Holland, on the other hand, isn’t ruling out converting a Conservative motion on foreign meddling into a confidence vote, seemingly preferring a potential federal election than going through the House hearing.
Both the Conservatives and the Bloc Québécois appear willing to support the measure. The New Democratic Party (NDP) has yet to state its position on this specific resolution, but it intends to introduce its own motion requesting a complete public probe into the issue of foreign meddling.
NDP House Leader Peter Julian repeated Monday that his party wants an inquiry that looks at the issue in its entirety, rather than just China. The Conservatives, though, have rebuffed efforts to broaden the investigation to include intervention by other nations, such as Russia and Iran.
It could be the first genuine test of the supply-and-confidence agreement reached by the NDP and Liberals a year ago. In exchange for the government acting on major NDP goals like dental care, the NDP is supporting the government on budgets and other votes that are automatically seen as confidence votes.
The government must win a confidence vote or be forced to resign.
The agreement, signed in early March 2022, does handle circumstances in which the government declares a vote of no confidence on other issues. It requires the Liberals to notify the NDP of a confidence vote as soon as practicable, and the NDP to discuss how its MPs intend to vote with the Liberals before declaring it publicly, “to permit discussions.”
When asked precisely if the government would attempt to declare the Conservative motion a confidence matter, Holland intimated that those negotiations are already starting.
“I think it’s not helpful to jump to the end of a process when we are still having conversations in a contemporaneous circumstance,” Holland said.
Telford, according to Alberta MP Michael Cooper, is a “critical witness to get to the heart of the scandal,” and she should be able to answer what Trudeau knows about Beijing’s meddling, when he learnt about it, and what he did about it.
Holland stated that the decision to focus so heavily on Telford is purely motivated by partisan politics.
Conservative House Leader Andrew Scheer stated that the Tories would support the move even if the Liberals turned it into a confidence motion, citing the importance of the matter.
“It’s up to Justin Trudeau to make those kinds of decisions. And it’s up to the NDP to decide whether or not they’re going to allow themselves to be bullied around to cover up Liberal scandals,” Scheer told reporters.
It is noteworthy that the Tories were against calling political staff to appear before a Commons committee, as Liberals have raised multiple times, back when Leader of the Opposition Pierre Poilievre was defending the Harper government.
In 2010, the Liberals demanded that junior and mid-level ministerial staffers appear. They claimed that Parliament has the authority to summon anyone to a Parliamentary committee.
Information for this briefing was found via The Star, Toronto Sun, and the sources mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to this organization. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.