OTTAWA — The Liberal and NDP members on a House of Commons committee voted on Tuesday to sunset another Conservative attempt to examine the WE Charity scandal, and invite the prime minister and key members of his cabinet to testify.
The Liberal chair of the Procedure and House Affairs Committee (PROC), Ruby Sahota, outlined her reasoning for shutting down further study of the issue, arguing that Conservative House leader Karen Vecchio’s motion to review the reasons for prorogation and to call for the advanced disclosure of WE Charity-related documents presupposes the reason for dissolving Parliament.
Under changes made by the Liberals in response to what they viewed as a misuse of prorogation by past Conservative governments, Trudeau has to table a report in the House 20 sitting days into a new session detailing the reasons for his discontinuing the session of Parliament.
That report will be presented to PROC to consider, and the Conservatives’ position is that in order to prepare, they’d like to receive, in advance, emails, documents, notes and other records from the Prime Minister’s Office and the Privy Council Office dating back to the day that the WE Charity was named to run the grant program, “concerning options, plans and preparations for the prorogation of Parliament.”
“Undertaking a pre-study at this time would be seen as being premature,” Sahota said. “In this instance, because the government has not yet tabled in the House a report outlining the reason for prorogation, the committee is not in a position to have a base of reference from which to begin the study nor would it be appropriate to pre-suppose the outcome of the report.”
The Liberals were joined by NDP MP Rachel Blaney in voting to uphold the committee chair’s ruling, while the Conservatives and Bloc Quebecois MP Alain Therrien voted against it.
All other committee activities, including the Finance and Ethics committee’s study of the WE Charity affair, have been suspended since the dissolving of Parliament and won’t be considered until new members are named and a chair elected. At that point, members will decide whether studies will be resumed.
With files from CTV News’ Rachel Aiello.