The chances of a snap election are in balance as the Liberal government and opposition Conservatives break up over a proposal to set up a parliamentary committee to look into the cost and possible moral flaws of the Liberal government’s epidemic.
Today, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canadians will go to the polls if his government loses a vote of confidence on the Conservative motion.
“We have taken unprecedented steps to support Canadians, to support small businesses, to support families, to support communities across the country, and we hope that parliamentarians will be able to look very carefully at all those costs at this extraordinary time, so we are proposing this special committee,” Trudeau said. Said at a news conference in Ottawa.
“However, it is up to parliamentarians and the opposition to decide whether this minority parliament wants to work, or whether they have lost faith in this government’s ability to manage this epidemic and govern this country during this crisis.”
The government has proposed to hit a special committee with a narrow mandate to review the cost of the Federal Kovid-19 program.
Earlier in the day, Conservative leader Erin O’Toole had argued that setting up a special committee to investigate the misuse of tax dollars during the coronavirus epidemic was not a legitimate reason to launch a general election.
At a news conference in Ottawa, O’Toole said pushing his so-called “anti-corruption” committee to look into government spending, lobbying and the distribution of federal aid programs was about considering the government on possible mis-pending and ethical flaws.
The Liberal government says the motion to form a parliamentary committee will be considered a vote of confidence – meaning it will lead to a federal election.
O’Toole has been amended to include the Conservative motion language being discussed today, stating that the creation of the committee should not be considered as reasons to order elections.
He said he was also ready to change the name of the committee if other opposition parties were brought on board.
“Canadians expect the truth, they deserve accountability. That’s what this committee does,” he said, adding that the Liberals have been held accountable for withholding documents, promoting parliament and removing a chief minister who was embroiled in the WE Charity controversy.
Trudeau elections are not in the best interest of Canadians
In an interview with Toronto radio station RED FM on Tuesday, Trudeau accused the Conservatives of playing political games as the government tries to focus on supporting Canadians through the coronavirus pandemic.
“If they think we’re too corrupt, we’m told them, then they may not have faith in the government, and I think that’s very important. If they want to criticize, they have to be ready to back it up in the House,” he said.
Trudeau said he did not want elections and that holding on to one now would not be in the interests of Canadians.
“But if the Conservatives say this government is completely corrupt, I think they will have to face the consequences,” he said.
Liberal House leader Pablo Rodriguez called the Conservative motion “completely irresponsible” and confirmed that the government considers it a resolution of confidence.
He said the committee was misguided by the government’s efforts to help Canadians through health and financial crises.
“Their move is nothing but a dangerous political plan to freeze the government, and they are doing it at a time when we all need to focus on keeping Canadians safe and healthy during the epidemic,” he said.
The Conservative Motion will give the new committee a mandate to examine the relationship between the Canadian Student Service Grant and the WE Charity – chosen to run the event – and members of the Liberal Government and their families.
There will also be work to examine other issues related to the government’s COVID-19 response.
Conservatives say the committee will have the power to call Trudeau a witness, as well as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Christiana Freeland and other cabinet ministers.
Conservative House leader Gerard Deltel called the Liberals’ attempt to win over the Tory motion “ridiculous.”
Rodriguez wrote in a letter to Deltel yesterday that “you’re also entertaining such ulation tricks – this is for all Canadians – desperate tips that the Liberal government is going to cover up the very embarrassing scandal of repeating corruption.” A copy of the letter was received by the Canadian Press.
NDP to Liberals: ‘Peace’
Weeks ago, the NDP set up a special committee that would focus specifically on the costs of the epidemic – expanding the Tories’ anti-corruption investigation.
The Liberals opposed their own proposal for the COVID-19 committee, explaining their pitch on Monday in a letter to the House leaders of other parties.
With six Liberal MPs and six members of the opposition parties, they are proposing one that will focus on the costs of the epidemic. The Tory version has 15 MPs, with the opposition having a majority.
The Liberals policy is very broad, Deltel said.
“Mr. O’Toole’s motion is to set up a committee with a centralized mandate to review the most embarrassing reports of your government’s pandemic response,” he wrote in a reply to Rodriguez.
“It allows the 24 Standing Committees of the House to focus on their general mandates and how they will cope with the COVID-19 epidemic, enabling Parliament to carry out its primary purpose: to take the Government into consideration.”
NDP ethics critic Charlie Angus said earlier Monday that he feared the Liberals would obstruct the work of the new committee, just as they did with the current ones by filing measures to prevent the vote.
However he acknowledged that their numbers were not enough to defeat President Conte’s government.
In any confidence vote, the votes of NDP and Black Cubacois MPs are crucial in determining whether the minority liberal government has fallen.
“Our message to liberals is, stay calm, we have work to do,” Angus said. “Work with us.”
The documents fell on Monday
The WE shed more light on Monday on the interaction between the charity and the government with the release of dozens of pages of documents previously requested by the Finance Committee. These documents include details of fees and expenses paid to Trudeau family members attending WE events.
The charity has previously said that the prime minister’s wife, Sophie Gregor Trudeau, paid 500 1,500 speaking fees for a show. Documents released Monday revealed that the charity spent 9,23,940.76 for eight exhibitions between 2012 and 2020.
The Commons Ethics Committee has demanded to know how much money Trudeau and his family have received in speaker fees over the past few years. Trudeau released details of his own fees on Monday – about 3 1.3 million – he revealed when he ran for party leadership in 2013.
But the Liberals say his family records are limitless.