Opposition parties frustrated after debate regarding Trudeau's top aide abruptly cancelled
TORONTO -- The federal Conservatives and NDP are venting frustrations after a debate on whether to call Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s chief of staff to testify in the Gen. Jonathan Vance investigation was abruptly cancelled on Monday.
Debate into whether to call Katie Telford to answer questions regarding the government’s handling of the allegations against Vance began on Friday, but was suspended after the Liberal members of the defence committee talked out the clock.
The debate was to resume on Monday, but opposition members were notified before the meeting that it had been cancelled.
"All that we got was a last-minute notice that the meeting was cancelled with no explanation," NDP defence critic Randall Garrison told The Canadian Press. "And no timeline for resuming. The official website still says Friday's meeting is suspended and doesn't say anything else about that."
Conservative defence critic James Bezan blamed the Liberals for cancelling the meeting to protect the government and Telford.
“They’re trying to run and hide rather than allow us to talk to Katie Telford directly, as committee members, to find out what she does know,” he told CTV’s Power Play.
The meeting was also cancelled shortly after Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole released a statement calling on Trudeau to fire Telford and said his party would be tabling a motion in the House of Commons to fire Telford.
While there is a possibility the motion may pass, it would be considered largely symbolic and sources tell CTV News that Telford has no intentions of resigning.
“I just don’t think we can believe what the Liberals are trying to sell here, and that’s why we brought forward the opposition day motion tomorrow,” Bezan said.
Telford has been in political hot water since last month when Elder Marques, one of Trudeau’s former advisers, suggested that she was made aware of the allegation against Vance. Given Trudeau has been adamant he was not aware of any allegations against the former general, opposition parties have seized on the idea that the prime minister’s top aide knew about the allegation, but didn’t tell him.
“If Katie Telford knew about this, and the prime minister’s being honest here and didn’t know this was about sexual misconduct, then Katie Telford failed to do her duties as chief of staff and she should be fired,” Bezan said.
Last week Trudeau said his office was made aware of the allegation, but was unaware the allegation was sexual in nature.
In early February, Canadian military police launched an investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against Vance. CTV News has not independently verified the allegations.
With files from The Canadian Press and CTVNews.ca Writer Brooklyn Neustaeter