Liberals say creation of anti-corruption committee would have confidence implications

Liberals say creation of anti-corruption committee would have confidence implications

OTTAWA — The federal government appears to be drawing a line in the sand with the opposition parties’ ongoing attempts to revive the WE Charity controversy, by stating that passage of a Conservative motion to create a new anti-corruption committee would “raise serious questions” about whether the House of Commons still has confidence in the government.

While the government did not confirm Monday morning if they are viewing this proposal and the vote on it as a matter of confidence, in a new letter to his opposition counterparts Government House Leader Pablo Rodriguez said that if opposition MPs agree on the need for a new probe, it would have implications for the confidence in Liberal minority government.

“The Conservative proposal is blatantly partisan. It is designed to paralyze the government. If passed, the proposal will raise serious questions about whether the House of Commons continues to have confidence in the government,” Rodriguez said. 

A confidence vote on this motion means that, if it is defeated, the government could fall and Canadians could be thrust into a snap election in the middle of a pandemic.

Tuesday will be the Conservatives’ first opposition day of the session, and Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole and his caucus have given notice they may be looking to force a vote on a proposal to create a new larger-than-usual parliamentary anti-corruption committee. The committee would take over investigating the WE Charity controversy as well as other lines of inquiry into alleged Liberal scandals and potential conflicts of interest. 

This proposal includes a request for the same trove of documents the Liberals, WE Charity, and the public service are being asked to disclose at the House of Commons ethics and finance committees, where Liberal filibusters are underway to delay the votes on those motions.

On Monday morning, Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre said that the Conservatives “will not relent,” and questioned why the Liberals appear willing to make this vote a confidence matter. 

“Setting up a committee is not a matter of confidence, no government in Canadian history has been brought down because an opposition motion passed to set up a committee,” he said. 

“The Conservatives will take any steps necessary within our parliamentary system to get at the truth,” he said, adding that he government needs to “get out of the way” and let committees do their work. 

On this point, the government agrees. 

Rodriguez is doubling down on his proposal that there be a new special committee focused solely on COVID-19 spending, where it’s possible tangents of these Conservative-alleged scandals could be evaluated, but other committees could be freed up to do other studies. 

“The Conservatives are going too far by forcing private citizens to divulge personal financial information, by making multiple unreasonable demands for public servants designed to be impossible to meet during a pandemic, and accusing them of breaching parliamentary privilege,” Rodriguez said. 

Rachel Aiello – Ottawa News Bureau Online Producer