Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday October 20, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday October 20, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Trudeau Liberals face confidence vote over proposed anticorruption committee

Conservatives are willing to drop ‘anticorruption’ from the name of their proposed committee

A dispute over the scope and composition of a House of Commons committee will come to a head today in a vote that could trigger a federal election in the midst of the second deadly wave of COVID-19.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has declared that the vote on a Conservative motion to create a special anticorruption committee will be a test of confidence in his minority Liberal government.

The Conservatives are willing to drop “anticorruption” from the name of their proposed committee but the intent remains the same: to create an opposition-dominated committee to investigate the WE Charity affair and other issues the official Opposition maintains reek of the government funnelling pandemic-related funding to Liberal friends.

The motion would give the committee broad powers to call witnesses, including the prime minister and other ministers, and to demand documents on a range of issues, including the speaking fees drawn by Trudeau’s mother and brother over the past 12 years.

The Liberals maintain the committee would amount to a time-consuming fishing expedition that would paralyze the government when it should be focused on helping Canadians get through the second wave of the pandemic.

They’ve proposed their own special committee to examine all government pandemic-related spending, including but not exclusively the WE affair and other matters the Opposition deems suspicious.

The Bloc Quebecois is planning to support the Conservative motion but NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh refused Tuesday to give a clear indication of what his party will do.

“It won’t be me that calls an election,” Singh said Wednesday morning, but did not answer questions about potential developments.

Asked whether his party had made up its mind on the vote, NDP MP Matthew Green said, “If so, I haven’t got the memo.”

New Democrats have said they believe the Conservative motion is “over the top,” but they’ve also said the Liberal counter-proposal isn’t good enough — particularly since it calls for a Liberal chair rather than allowing an opposition member to preside.

Singh said Tuesday that making the issue a test of confidence is absurd and that his party won’t take part in a “farce” that gives Trudeau an excuse to force an election.

Should New Democrats abstain on today’s vote, the Liberals and combined Conservative and Bloc MPs would have an equal number of votes, 153 each. That would leave the three Green and two Independent MPs to decide the fate of the government.

On Wednesday, Bloc Quebecois House leader Alain Therrien reiterated his party’s support for the Conservative motion to create an anticorruption committee.

“The situation of WE Charity is so complex, so big, that it is absolutely necessary that we have … a committee that only looks at what happened in WE Charity,” he said in French.

The Liberals’ “scorched-earth” politics are the product of a “club of cronyism,” Therrien said, rendering compromise impossible.

He also fired off a round at the NDP, suggesting New Democrats have obediently followed Grit demands.

“The NDP have acted in the last little while a little like the Liberals’ lap dog,” he said.

READ MORE: Liberals say Tory effort to set up COVID-19 committee will be a confidence matter

Green Leader Annamie Paul struck a more collegial tone, stressing collaboration amid the pandemic and calling for Trudeau and O’Toole to tone down the “unnecessary brinksmanship.”

“Now is not the time for us to weaken this cross-partisan cooperation, when people still need our help to meet their most urgent needs,” Paul said in a statement.

“The Liberal and Conservative parties’ high-stakes, high-tech game of chicken can have no winner. They should leave such games outside of Parliament, and focus on the urgent needs of people in Canada.”

The dispute comes after the Liberals filibustered opposition attempts to revive their investigations into the WE affair at the Commons finance and ethics committees, whose probes were shut down when Trudeau prorogued Parliament in August.

The controversy revolves around the government’s decision last June to pay WE Charity $43.5 million to administer a now-cancelled student service grant program, despite Trudeau’s long-standing family ties to the organization.

Trudeau has said public servants recommended WE as the only group that could manage the program. He has nevertheless apologized for not recusing himself from the decision to involve WE, as has former finance minister Bill Morneau, who also has close family ties to WE.

Both Trudeau and Morneau are under investigation by the federal ethics commissioner for possible violations of the Conflict of Interest Act.

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

CoronavirusLiberals

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta has 1,910 active cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday. Red Deer is reporting five active cases, with 108 recovered. (File photo)
Red Deer reports 25th COVID-19 death

415 new cases identified provincially Saturday

Alberta Health reported two new COVID-19 deaths in Red Deer Friday. (Image courtesy CDC)
Two more deaths linked to Olymel outbreak in Red Deer

Province reported 356 additional COVID-19 cases Friday

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney speaks during a news conference in Edmonton on Feb. 24, 2020. It’s budget day in the province, and Kenney’s United Conservative government is promising more help in the fight against COVID, but more red ink on the bottom line. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta’s budget promises more help for COVID-19 with a hard deficit

Annual spending on debt interest is closing in on $3 billion

The Town of Sylvan Lake has launched a new contest to attract a new business. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Sylvan Lake offering rent-free storefront space to lure new businesses

Winning business proposal will get a storefront space rent-free for a year

Alberta reported an additional 399 cases of COVID-19 Thursday, on 9,217 tests, for a test positivity rate of 4.3 per cent. (Image courtesy CDC)
Red Deer down to 562 active COVID-19 cases

8 new COVID-19 deaths, 399 additional COVID-19 cases

A helicopter flies past a mountain near McBride, B.C., on Saturday January 30, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Avalanche warning for backcountry users in North and South Rockies

Avalanche Canada is urging backcountry users to always check their regional avalanche forecasts

Supporters pray outside court in Stony Plain, Alta., on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021, as a trial date was set for Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church. He is charged with holding Sunday services in violation of Alberta’s COVID-19 rules and with breaking conditions of his bail release. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Trial date for jailed Alberta pastor charged with breaking COVID-19 health orders

The court says it will reconvene with lawyers on March 5 for a case management plan by teleconference

A pharmacist prepares a COVID-19 vaccine at Village Green Retirement Campus in Federal Way on Jan. 26. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
Canada approves use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine

The country joins more than a dozen others in giving the shot the green light

Emily Keeping of Wetaskiwin, Alta., was last seen at 4:20 p.m. on Feb. 25, 2021 at the FasGas on 49 St and 50 Ave in Wetaskiwin. Supplied/ Wetaskiwin RCMP.
UPDATE: Wetaskiwin RCMP seek assistance in locating missing 11-year-old

Emily Keeping was last seen on Feb. 25, 2021 at the FasGas on 49 St and 50 Ave in Wetaskiwin.

Alberta premier Jason Kenney, right and Doug Schweitzer, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General, provide details about Bill 13, the Alberta Senate Election Act., in Edmonton Alta, on Wednesday June 26, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Minister Doug Schweitzer talks on Enhanced COVID-19 Business Benefit

Provincial government rolling out new benefit this April to better help small businesses.

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
NDP will not trigger election as long as pandemic continues: Singh

‘“We will vote to keep the government going’

Minister Rick Wilson poses with Katie at the Boys and Girls Club of Wetaskiwin, both wearing her Pink Shirt Day design. Facebook/ Boys and Girls Club of Wetaskiwin.
Wetaskiwin Boys and Girls club Pink Shirt day design focuses on kindness

Katie with the Boys and Girls Club of Wetaskiwin created this year’s Pink Shirt Day design.

Most Read