The prime minister of Canada has twice already run aground while negotiating the not-so-difficult to navigate waters of ethical parliamentary behaviour.
So it is, well, scandalous to behold the spectacle of Liberal members of Parliament repeatedly engaging in what is charitably described as “filibustering” in order to delay a vote on the disclosure of additional documentation in the WE Charity scandal.
Conservatives, Bloc Quebecois and NDP MPs at the ethics committee are pushing a motion that would require detailed disclosure of speaking fees paid to Justin Trudeau, his wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, his mother Margaret Kemper (Trudeau), as well as his brother Alexandre since 2008. Such documentation would not be offered for public consumption, but rather reviewed privately by committee members “in camera.”
The issue of the hundreds of thousands of dollars in speaking fees and expenses paid to members of the Trudeau family between 2016 and 2020 came to national light as the Canada Student Service Grant program was introduced and revealed as a sole-source contract arrangement between WE Charity and the Trudeau government. WE Charity said in September that as a result of the backlash, it is shuttering its Canadian operations.
The prime minister, meanwhile, we were eventually informed, had failed to recuse himself from cabinet discussions at which WE Charity was decided on as administrator of the grant program.
Switch to the parliamentary finance committee, where opposition MPs contend that the thousands of documents they had requested arrived heavily redacted by bureaucrats.
Parliamentary law clerk Philippe Dufresne, in a letter to his finance committee counterpart, challenged the redactions as being inconsistent with the committee’s request.
Liberals on the finance committee argue the redactions were necessary to protect the identity and privacy of government employees and are non-essential cabinet documentation.
The redacted documents arrived shortly after Parliament’s proroguing, which effectively had shut down all investigations concerning the PM, his family and WE Charity.
Public pressure on Trudeau appeared by then to be reaching levels last experienced when former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould, before the parliamentary justice committee, accused the inner circle at the PMO of bullying and pressuring her to interfere with independent federal prosecutors regarding whether a criminal charge should be filed against SNC-Lavalin, or whether the Quebec giant ought to suffer a mere wrist slap in the form of a deferred prosecution.
Wilson-Raybould at the time sought leave to expand on previous testimony, but the then Liberal majority on the committee denied any further under-oath revelations by the woman who had been entrusted with the nation’s top law enforcement job. Wilson-Raybould and her supportive cabinet colleague and health minister Dr. Jane Philpott were shortly thereafter jettisoned from the party caucus.
Now, though, it is opposition parties which, when combined, have the power at committees to out-vote the minority Liberal government MPs.
And so the current spectacle unfolds.
Liberal MPs repeatedly insist it should be parliamentary ethics commissioner Mario Dion who determines any outcome.
Previous commissioner Mary Dawson and the aforementioned Dion have previously found Trudeau to have violated ethics rules.
And it is not likely the Liberals currently on the ethics and finance committees have forgotten the fate of their erstwhile colleagues who ran afoul of this prime minister.
Roy Green is the host of the Roy Green Show on the Global News Radio network.