Refusing to allow Liberal political aides to testify at the We inquiry could lead to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau being censured by Parliament, says Blacklock’s Reporter.
The Commons ethics committee on Wednesday saw a notice of a motion citing Trudeau’s office for defying a House order.
“By blocking witnesses from testifying, ordering witnesses not to testify against an order of the House of Commons, the government is devaluing and disrespecting Canada’s Parliament,” said Conservative MP Michael Barrett (Leeds-Grenville, Ont.).
The Commons on March 25 voted 181-153 to order three Trudeau aides to testify on negotiations with We Charity over a $43.5 million grant. The funding was revoked last July 3 following disclosures We Charity gave the Prime Minister’s family $481,751 in gifts, fees and expense-paid trips to London and New York.
“A clear majority of members supported the motion,” said Barrett.
“And the motion is crystal clear. It gives direction to individuals to appear, and it gives direction for documents to be produced.”
MPs have directed three aides for questioning: Ben Chin, the Prime Minister’s senior advisor; Rick Theis, the director of cabinet affairs; and Amitpal Singh, a policy advisor to the Deputy Prime Minister.
So far, none of the three have appeared at committee hearings.
Cabinet instead assigned Government House Leader Pablo Rodriguez to testify, though Rodriguez admitted he had nothing to do with the $43.5 million grant and had never heard of We Charity.
“To be honest, the first time I heard the name We I thought it was ‘oui’ in French,” Rodriguez told the ethics committee Monday.
“I was wrong.”
Under cross-examination, Rodriguez said “I don’t know” and “not that I know of” nineteen times.
“You don’t seem to know very much,” said Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre (Carleton, Ont.).
Bloc Québécois MP Rhéal Fortin (Riviere-du-Nord, Que.) served the notice of the motion that the Prime Minister’s Office was in breach of the House order.
“This is grievous,” said Fortin.
“We do live in a country called Canada and I always thought Canada was supposed to be a democratic country where decisions by the House held some value. And yet members of the government side are blatantly defying the House.”
“Since Parliamentarians attempted to shed light on the We Charity scandal, government members have gone to great lengths to stop us.
“They’ve put a spanner in the works at each and every turn. There’s been filibustering, an inordinate amount of censoring of documents, then Parliament was prorogued, committees were dissolved and had to be re-struck.”
“We need to get to the bottom of it. Yet we are the subject of filibustering.”
A committee vote in favour of Fortin’s motion would compel the Commons to enforce the order or censure the Prime Minister. Cabinet’s dealings with We Charity are currently the subject of ongoing investigations by the Ethics Commissioner under the Conflict Of Interest Act.
Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard