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Canada Liberals renew filibuster of finance committee as WE scandal continues to percolate in parliament

01:15  30 october  2020
01:15  30 october  2020 Source:   nationalpost.com

Liberals threaten to call election if Parliament passes 'anti-corruption' committee motion

  Liberals threaten to call election if Parliament passes 'anti-corruption' committee motion OTTAWA – The Liberals are threatening to send Canadians to the polls if Parliament passes an opposition motion to create an “anti-corruption” committee, calling the Conservative proposal “ultra-partisan” and “irresponsible.” On Monday, Government House Leader Pablo Rodriguez expressed frustration at the Conservatives’ push for the committee, which would be composed of 15 MPs tasked with delving into the WE Charity scandal and other possible conflicts of interest involving the Liberals.

Liberal members of the committee have resumed their filibuster of a Conservative motion that calls on the Speaker of the Commons to rule that redactions But New Democrat MP Peter Julian argued Wednesday that the amendment is a “sneaky” way to effectively kill the Conservative motion because

Liberal MPs are arguing — at great length — that Shugart and other public servants should be allowed to explain themselves before being condemned by the committee . By refusing to hear from Shugart, Liberal MP Annie Koutrakis said opposition members seem to be saying “he’s not to be trusted.”

Pierre Poilievre wearing a suit and tie: Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre holds up redacted documents relating to the WE Charity affair in August. The Conservatives are pushing to have a neutral party determine if any information was improperly withheld. © Provided by National Post Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre holds up redacted documents relating to the WE Charity affair in August. The Conservatives are pushing to have a neutral party determine if any information was improperly withheld.

OTTAWA — The confidence vote drama may have receded for now, but a committee standoff over WE documents and an ongoing ethics commissioner investigation are a reminder that the issues that nearly triggered an election last week are still alive and percolating in Parliament.

The Liberals have once again filibustered the House of Commons finance committee over the issue of redactions applied to the government’s WE Charity documents, dragging out the meeting for eight hours on Wednesday. The chair, Liberal MP Wayne Easter, suspended the proceedings that night due to “health and safety reasons.”

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  John Ivison: Canada is heading into a 'foggy' fiscal future, new C.D. Howe report warns The government leader in the House of Commons accused his political opponents of “paralyzing committees with partisanship” on Monday, apparently struck by amnesia about last week’s Liberal filibuster and the prorogation that stopped those same committees digging into the WE Charity affair. Pablo Rodriguez didn’t even blush as he portrayed the Conservatives as the thieves of parliamentary time. Their efforts to discover how much the prime minister’s mother and brother were paid to speak at WE events are an abuse of Parliament’s authority, he said, and the Conservative proposal to set up an “anti-corruption committee” threatens to spark an election.

The House of Commons finance committee -- which could be holding consultations on an upcoming federal budget that is expected to contain historic deficits and unprecedented spending to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic -- continues to be stuck on the WE Charity affair.

Liberal members of the House of Commons ethics committee have blocked a push from opposition members for the committee to open a new probe and invite former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould to testify on the SNC-Lavalin scandal , which continues to engulf the Liberal government.

The meeting resumed late Thursday afternoon but the first part of it was conducted in camera, which blocks the public from viewing the discussions.

Thursday also brought news that Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion is dropping his investigation into whether the WE Charity trips taken by former Finance Minister Bill Morneau were an improper gift. As first reported by CBC, Dion has now informed Morneau that he accepts Morneau “genuinely believed” he’d reimbursed the 2017 travel taken in Ecuador and Kenya by himself and his family.

Morneau hastily wrote a $41,000 cheque to WE in July after informing the finance committee he’d just realized he’d never paid back the expenses. Morneau resigned as finance minister and as an MP a few weeks later, saying he wanted to run to be secretary of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

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That particular scandal prompted a broad-scale redesign of the expenses offered to federal MPs Shadow ministers and committee chairs earn a significantly smaller premium on the basic salary. In the past month, much of the Parliament 's attention has been focused on the allowances paid to those

However, the ethics commissioner is still investigating Morneau for not recusing himself from cabinet discussions on having WE Charity administer the $900-million Canada Student Service Grant program, despite the fact one of Morneau’s daughters worked for WE and another had spoken at WE Day events.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is also being examined by Dion for not recusing himself despite his own family’s payments for speaking at WE events. It is not yet known when Dion will release his report, but it could arrive later this year.

Regardless, the opposition parties are determined to continue with their own study into the matter. At issue in the finance committee are the thousands of pages of government documents related to the WE scandal that were disclosed to the committee in the summer.

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Continue reading the main story. A Cool Trudeau Rebuffs Conflict Charges. Will Canadians Buy His Story? There was no corruption, just a government “ We moved quickly to try to get help out to people as fast as we could as flexibly as we could,” Mr. Trudeau said. The question is: Was his performance

Finance Minister Taro Aso apologized and said an internal investigation was ongoing as opposition lawmakers called for him to resign. While Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party is unlikely to lose its grip on power, the scandal could hamper his bid to become Japan’s longest-serving prime minister.

The documents were redacted by public servants before being handed over; the opposition parties have protested that this was a breach of their parliamentary privilege, as their motion had directed the redactions be done by the independent House of Commons law clerk.

The Liberals are attempting to address the complaint by having the Privy Council Clerk Ian Shugart appear at the committee to explain the redactions.

“Conservatives, Bloc and NDP are ready to find public servants guilty of breaching privileges of MPs without even giving them a chance to explain their actions,” said a statement by Government House Leader Pablo Rodriguez on Wednesday. “Liberals believe in due process. The opposition should do the right thing and let the Clerk of the Privy Council and his non-partisan public servants explain themselves.”

Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre told the National Post that the Liberals’ proposal does not address the opposition’s complaints.

“The Conservatives propose a compromise: the government should give all of the WE scandal documents unredacted to the neutral parliamentary law clerk so that he can report back to Parliament within a week on whether any of the documents have been improperly withheld,” he said.

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  Pushing back: Why the Trudeau Liberals were prepared to take Canada to an election OTTAWA – When rumours first emerged last week that the Liberals would take a Conservative motion designed to get a new committee looking into the WE scandal as a confidence vote, they were largely dismissed. Wild and ultimately unsubstantiated rumours are as common on Parliament Hill as Catholics in Vatican City. While the first ten months of 2020 have seemed much longer, the Liberals have only been in power a year. They have a fiscal update coming and legislation to pass. They have a small but not insurmountable lead in polls and plunging Canadians into an election with COVID-19 cases on the rise is a considerable risk.

“Whether we ’ re talking about 1987 or 2019, candidates have a responsibility to adhere to the truth,” said Woolson, now a Republican political consultant based in Des Moines. “The moral of the story, whether it was back then or today, is that voters deserve and expect candidates who are going to be truthful.”

68) The filibuster is a technique used in the. 80) A _ committee is one appointed for a limited, specific purpose, such as that set up to investigate the Watergate scandal .

“Mr. Shugart is a fine man, but he is hired and fired by the prime minister. He is dependent on the prime minister for his job. No one who the prime minister can fire should be in charge of determining what documents are released about the prime minister’s scandal.”

a man wearing a suit and tie:  Ian Shugart, Clerk of the Privy Council, in August. Canada’s top public servant is offering to testify about controversial redactions made to some 5,000 pages of documents on the WE Charity affair. © Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press/File Ian Shugart, Clerk of the Privy Council, in August. Canada’s top public servant is offering to testify about controversial redactions made to some 5,000 pages of documents on the WE Charity affair.

As of Thursday, there is no end in sight to the standoff, which is preventing the finance committee from doing its usual work of pre-budget consultations.

Meanwhile, the Commons health committee is preparing its sweeping investigation into the government’s COVID-19 response, an investigation that will eventually be supported by a trove of government documents ordered to be produced by the end of November by a Conservative motion passed earlier this week. The committee is scheduled to meet Monday to begin preparing a witness list and a timeline for meetings.

The Liberals have warned that the investigation risks exposing commercial information and thus threatens the government’s ability to procure vaccines, personal protective equipment, and other pandemic-related supplies. The Conservatives say this concern is overblown and that redactions can be made to protect commercial sensitivity.

Although the Liberals had previously deemed a Conservative motion on the WE affair to be a confidence matter, they ultimately decided not to make the COVID-19 motion a confidence vote. That means the investigation is taking place without the risk of triggering an election — at least for now. The Liberals always retain the option of calling an election on their own, regardless of whether a confidence vote has taken place.

• Email: bplatt@postmedia.com | Twitter: btaplatt

Ethics committee debates new motion that could relaunch study into WE Charity scandal .
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This is interesting!