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Tories prepare push for Telford testimony on 2018 Vance allegation

Click to play video: 'NDP supportive of ‘getting to the bottom’ of allegations against Gen. Vance ahead of potential testimony for PM’s chief of staff' NDP supportive of ‘getting to the bottom’ of allegations against Gen. Vance ahead of potential testimony for PM’s chief of staff
WATCH: NDP supportive of ‘getting to the bottom’ of allegations against Gen. Vance ahead of potential testimony for PM’s chief of staff – Apr 28, 2021

Conservative members of the House of Commons defence committee plan to move a motion on Friday to push for an appearance by Katie Telford, chief of staff to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

And a senior NDP source tells Global News the party plans to support the motion, which would mean it should have enough support to pass unless Liberals filibuster to stall the vote.

A copy of the motion obtained by Global News shows the Tories plan to ask for her to be invited to appear next week for no less than two hours to respond after testimony last week by former colleague Elder Marques.

Marques, who was a senior advisor in the Prime Minister’s Office in 2018, told the committee Telford was aware of a 2018 allegation against Gen. Jonathan Vance and that he kept her updated as bureaucrats at the Privy Council Office opened a probe — which they abandoned shortly thereafter — into the matter.

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READ MORE: Trudeau’s chief of staff knew of 2018 Vance allegation: ex-senior staffer

The revelation immediately prompted fresh questions about why one of Trudeau’s closest confidantes and his most senior staff member would not have shared the existence of an allegation with him.

Trudeau doubled-down in defence of Telford on Tuesday, describing her as a key leader and a driving element of why the government calls itself a “feminist” one.

Those feminist credentials have been under fire for nearly three months, however, following reporting by Global News on Feb. 2 that revealed allegations of inappropriate behaviour by Vance.

Vance denies the allegations.

Click to play video: 'Trudeau defends top advisor, says office did not know 2018 Vance allegation was ‘Me Too complaint’' Trudeau defends top advisor, says office did not know 2018 Vance allegation was ‘Me Too complaint’
Trudeau defends top advisor, says office did not know 2018 Vance allegation was ‘Me Too complaint’ – Apr 27, 2021

Trudeau insisted “nobody knew it was a Me Too complaint” when asked on Tuesday whether he believes that Telford should have informed him of the 2018 allegation against Vance.

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Government records appeared to contradict that though, showing bureaucrats had been informed that the allegation related to “sexual harassment” on the same day as Marques had testified that he asked them to probe the matter — March 2, 2018.

READ MORE: Trudeau says no one knew Vance allegation was ‘Me Too’ complaint – records raise questions

Michael Wernick, who was clerk of the Privy Council at the time, has testified that Marques had a meeting with a senior PCO bureaucrat as well as the chief of staff to Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, on that same afternoon.

Click to play video: 'Sajjan repeats claim that immediate action was taken following Gen. Vance misconduct allegations' Sajjan repeats claim that immediate action was taken following Gen. Vance misconduct allegations
Sajjan repeats claim that immediate action was taken following Gen. Vance misconduct allegations – Apr 22, 2021

Sajjan has said repeatedly that he refused to look at the evidence offered by then-military ombudsman Gary Walbourne when Walbourne alerted him to an allegation against Vance on March 1, 2018.

Conservative Deputy Leader Candice Bergen took up the issue in the House of Commons on Wednesday, raising a question of privilege arguing that the prime minister had mislead the House by saying no one was aware it was a “Me Too complaint.”

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“At the heart of the issue is the prime minister’s (claim) that he was unaware in 2018 that the matter of the allegations of sexual misconduct against General Vance was a matter of the Me Too complaint. I have evidence that will demonstrate that this is a false statement,” Bergen said.

She pointed to the records from government officials as evidence of her claim that Trudeau mislead the House.

“It is just not believable that the prime minister was unaware that these allegations were of a Me Too, sexual complaint nature,” Bergen said.

The Speaker did not immediately rule on the question. The Liberals and Bloc Quebecois also requested some time to consider the question before issuing a response.

Click to play video: 'Trudeau grilled on whether aide should have told him about Vance allegations' Trudeau grilled on whether aide should have told him about Vance allegations
Trudeau grilled on whether aide should have told him about Vance allegations – Apr 27, 2021

NDP MP Randall Garrison, however, immediately shared his interest in learning whether the prime minister had indeed mislead the House.

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“Knowing whether the prime minister was aware of the nature of the allegations against Vance is critical to our power as parliamentarians to hold the government accountable,” he said.

“This case of misleading the House may constitute obstruction, as previous speakers have found to be the case in other instances of misleading the House.”

Conservatives have also put a motion on notice that could see the House of Commons debate whether to call on the government to launch a public inquiry into the handling of the matter.

The motion is one of several that could be chosen for debate by the Conservatives on opposition day on Thursday — a day set aside for debate on a matter selected by the Official Opposition.

A Conservative source told Global News the motion is under consideration.

With files from Global’s Mike Le Couteur and Rachel Gilmore

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