Opposition Leader Erin O’Toole said today his party has brought forward a motion in the House of Commons – which will be debated tomorrow – calling for the removal of Katie Telford, the Prime Minister’s chief of staff. This is the latest turn in a crisis that erupted three months ago, when allegations of inappropriate behavior involving the country’s former top military commander – retired General Jonathan Vance – surfaced in the media.
An allegation of misconduct involving Vance was reported to the Prime Minister’s Office and the Privy Council Office in early 2018.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said while his staff were aware of the 2018 allegation, they were not aware of the details until the reports were released. More recently, he said Telford was unaware that this was a “#MeToo” allegation.
WATCH: O’Toole calls on Trudeau to fire his top adviser
Tories say they find it hard to believe and have pushed Telford to call before the Commons Defense Committee, which is looking to find out who in the Liberal government knew what and when about the Vance allegation .
“We call on the Prime Minister to act and fire his chief of staff,” O’Toole said today. “It’s time for Justin Trudeau to stop hiding the truth from Canadians and take responsibility for actions in his own office. “
The motion will be the focus of opposition day debate on Tuesday.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said it was unacceptable for a member of the Prime Minister’s staff to suffer the fall.
“It falls squarely on the prime minister’s shoulders,” Singh told reporters today.
Committee meeting suddenly canceled
The Commons Defense Committee was scheduled to hold another meeting today. This meeting was abruptly canceled by its chair, Liberal MP Karen McCrimmon.
In an email, McCrimmon said the committee will meet later this week and “will work hard to develop recommendations for the government.”
She did not address the status of the Conservative motion to call Telford – which was neither approved nor defeated at the last committee meeting.
“The committee met last Friday but was suspended at the request of the opposition,” McCrimmon said.
Opposition MPs have called for Friday’s meeting to be suspended. They also asked that the debate on whether to call Telford be resumed at today’s meeting – which has now been called off.
“The Liberals are clearly trying to come forward and hide,” said Conservative Deputy Leader Candice Bergen.
Liberal MPs present at Friday’s committee meeting were reluctant to resume debate, insisting that the committee continue to write its report instead of questioning another witness.
Telford’s testimony is considered relevant by the Conservatives and the New Democrats.
After former military ombudsman Gary Walbourne raised an informal allegation of misconduct involving Vance with Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan in 2018, the case was reported to the Prime Minister’s Office.
Former senior advisor to the Prime Minister’s Office, Elder Marques, testified before the committee that he had been informed by Telford or one of his staff of an allegation of “personal misconduct” against Vance. He also said he did not believe the prime minister had been made aware of the matter.
The Conservatives say they want to know why.
“If the Prime Minister is telling the truth and he wants Canadians to believe he had no knowledge of the evidence of sexual misconduct against General Vance, he will fire his chief of staff,” O’Toole said today ‘hui.