As Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his top aide, chief of staff Katie Telford, are likely preparing to testify before the House of Commons Finance Committee as part of its ongoing study into the WE Charity student grant scandal, opposition MPs are demanding a full accounting of Trudeau’s role in the affair during Thursday’s hearing.
“We want the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth,” said Conservative MP and finance critic Pierre Poilievre, who was successful late Wednesday in passing a motion requesting Trudeau testify for three hours, followed by Telford for two hours. Both were originally slated to appear for an hour each, beginning at 3 p.m. ET.
“The House of Commons will vote in September to recall him for another round of testimony, if he doesn’t give exhaustive answers tomorrow,” Poilievre said.
Both the Conservatives and NDP held mid-afternoon press conferences to speak about the scandal and set up for Thursday’s hearing.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh stopped short of calling for Trudeau to resign, saying his caucus is focused on getting to the bottom of the affair before determining what further measures need to be taken.
“The evidence has suggested it’s beyond just the prime minister… So, we need to know the truth, we need to know who’s exactly involved, and really Canadians want to know,” Singh said. “It looks like prime minister Trudeau and the Liberal government behind closed doors have been working to give millions of dollars to their close friends.”
These further calls for accountability come on the heels of MPs on another committee voting against taking up yet another avenue of inquiry.
Meanwhile, The House of Commons Ethics Committee met Wednesday to deliberate expanding its study further, before even hearing from any witnesses.
The Conservatives sought to request that all cabinet ministers disclose whether they had knowledge of relationships between Trudeau, other top Liberal officials and WE prior to the cabinet’s decision to award the grant program to WE, and disclose whether they, their families, or relatives have any WE connections.
The motion was voted down by the Liberal and NDP committee members.
The committee is looking into the Conflict of Interest Act aspect of the scandal and whether changes are needed to put up stronger conflict of interest shields in the Prime Minister’s Office, but also has requested access to Trudeau family financial records regarding speaking arrangements. Trudeau has also been called to testify at this committee.
While debating the motion, Liberal MPs said it was overbroad and “poorly drafted,” suggesting that every cabinet minister would have to account for their cousins and other distant relatives’ possible involvement with WE. The Bloc Quebecois attempted to amend it to become less wide-reaching, without success and amid assertions from the Conservative MPs that refusing to provide this further information would equate to a “cover up.”
“I think that Canadians deserve answers. This is a simple process, a simple procedure that simply asks those that were tasked with making a decision regarding close to a billion dollars, it simply asks for the information to be given to Canadians,” said Conservative MP and committee member Damien Kurek. (R. Aiello,ctv)