Opposition wants to summon Trudeau’s chief of staff, but Liberal MPs have filibustered to stall the motion.
A House committee looking into reports that China interfered in Canadian elections appears to be at a standstill as Liberal MPs continue to filibuster a motion that would compel the prime minister’s chief of staff to testify.
The Conservatives have been pushing for Katie Telford to appear before the committee to answer questions about recent media reports claiming the Prime Minister’s Office [PMO] was briefed on Beijing’s alleged interference in recent federal elections.
According to reporting by Global News, the Privy Council Office prepared a report for the Trudeau government warning that Chinese officials in Toronto had disbursed money to a “covert network tasked to interfere in Canada’s 2019 election.”
“We have no information on any federal candidates receiving money from China. That is still the case,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told the House of Commons last week.
With the backing of NDP and Bloc Québécois members, the Conservatives have the votes to pass the motion to summon Telford to testify before the House procedures committee. But Liberal MPs have staged a multi-day filibuster to keep the motion from going to a vote.
Conservative MP Michael Barrett said he and other opposition members on the committee are growing frustrated.
“We’re just listening to them talk out the clock,” he said. “[They’re] talking about all order of things. Their work in university, their travel overseas … things that have nothing to do with the matter at hand.”
The Liberals have maintained that the Conservatives only want Telford to testify so the opposition can score political points.
“The Conservative Party wants to pursue this for political gain and we want to do the work based in reality,” Liberal MP Ryan Turnbull said during an hour-long statement at Tuesday’s committee.
Even though the House of Commons isn’t sitting this week, the committee met Tuesday morning in an attempt to vote on the motion. But the Liberals continued filibustering well into the evening. The committee ended shortly after 10 p.m. ET without the motion coming to a vote.
Telford has appeared twice before Commons committees — once before a committee looking into sexual misconduct in the military, and once before a committee investigating the WE charity controversy.
NDP MP Rachel Blaney used the Liberals’ filibustering to call on the government to strike a public inquiry into election interference.
“It’s shameful and Canadians deserve answers from the Liberals, not continued delays,” she said in a media statement. “This filibustering from the Liberals proves our point that [the committee] isn’t the right place for this investigation. Canadians need a public inquiry to get the answers they deserve.”
Barrett accused the Liberals of holding up the committee’s other business, including a review of proposed riding boundary changes.
“It can’t be addressed until this motion is disposed of and the Liberals are the only thing between the committee moving on with its other business,” he said.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Darren Major is a senior writer for CBC’s Parliamentary Bureau. He can be reached via email firstname.lastname@example.org or by tweeting him @DMajJourno.
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