Liberals continue to filibuster House of Commons Finance Committee over WE Charity case – National


The House of Commons finance committee – which could hold 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 case.Liberal committee members resumed their obstruction of a Conservative motion asking the Speaker of the Commons to declare the redactions of over 5,000 pages of government documents on the WE case a violation of committee privileges.

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The committee ordered that the documents be disclosed, without redactions, to the parliamentary law clerk, who would then decide what information should be withheld to protect privacy or Cabinet secrets.

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Instead, senior officials withheld certain information before releasing the documents to the committee.

The country’s top official, Clerk of the Privy Council Ian Shugart, wrote to the committee on Tuesday, offering to testify on why the redactions were made.

Liberal MPs argue – at length – that Shugart and other officials should be allowed to explain themselves before being condemned by the committee.

They proposed an amendment to suspend the Conservative motion until the committee heard from officials and had a chance to compare documents released by the government with those released by the law clerk after he made additional redactions.

Law clerk Philippe Dufresne, who said the government’s redactions were not in accordance with the committee’s order, would also be invited to testify under the Liberal amendment.

But NDP MP Peter Julian argued Wednesday that the amendment is a “sneaky” way to effectively kill the Conservative motion because the Speaker will only rule on questions of privilege that come before him quickly.

Click to play video 'Singh says NDP doesn't want' witch hunt 'with WE Charity inquiry'

Singh Says NDP Don’t Want ‘Witch Hunt’ With WE Charity Inquiry

Singh Says NDP Don’t Want ‘Witch Hunt’ With WE Charity Inquiry

In letters accompanying the documents, Shugart and deputy ministers from various ministries said they withheld items such as cell phone numbers and email addresses of WE Charity officials, other than co-founders Craig and Marc Kielburger, from references to family members in some emails, and without interest. parts of Cabinet notes that dealt with other matters.

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Shugart said he had agreed to release information that could constitute an invasion of privacy under the Privacy Act and that would normally be considered Cabinet confidences.

In refusing to hear from Shugart, Liberal MP Annie Koutrakis said opposition members seem to be saying “he cannot be trusted”.

Liberal MP Peter Fragiskatos suggested at one point that Wednesday’s meeting could drag on into late night and Thursday morning. And he said he was ready to “go all the way” to uphold the integrity of officials.

Liberal MP Julie Dzerowicz argued that the purpose of the amendment is to break the deadlock that has crippled the committee and allow it to continue with pre-budget consultations.

“We’re wasting a lot of time,” she says. “And I think at the end of the day, it’s really Canadians who end up suffering.

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Julian countered that the Liberals should let the Conservative motion go to a vote if they really want to move on.

The controversy revolves around the government’s decision in June to give WE Charity $ 43.5 million to administer a student services scholarship program, despite the organization’s close ties to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his family .

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We gave up on the deal within days and then the program was canceled.

Trudeau and former Finance Minister Bill Morneau, who also has close ties to WE, apologized for not recusing themselves from the decision to involve the charity. Both are under investigation by the Federal Ethics Commissioner.

© 2020 The Canadian Press


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