Politics

Liberals to fight Tory motion summoning cabinet staff before parliamentary committees

The federal Liberal government is fighting a motion made by the Conservatives and backed by all the other parties to get cabinet ministers' staff to appear at any parliamentary committees.

Motion calls for cabinet members' staff to answer questions about WE Charity, sexual misconduct in military

Government House leader Pablo Rodriguez said the Liberals will ignore a motion passed by MPs Thursday calling for cabinet ministers' staffers to testify before parliamentary committees. He said the normal practice of Parliament is for ministers to be held accountable at committees. (Patrick Doyle/The Canadian Press)

The federal Liberal government is fighting a motion made by the Conservatives and backed by all the other parties to get cabinet ministers' staff to appear at any parliamentary committees.

Late yesterday the House of Commons voted to back a Conservative move to summon political staff and civil servants to testify about the WE Charity affair and about how the government handled a sexual-misconduct allegation against the country's top soldier.

Before the vote, government House leader Pablo Rodriguez said the Liberals will ignore the motion.

He argued that it has long been a practice of Parliament for the buck to stop with cabinet ministers when it comes to who is held responsible and questioned at committee. He said calling staff to testify is a form of partisan intimidation.

"Members of this House are protected from intimidation through our parliamentary privilege. It is irresponsible for members to turn this protection into weapons against those who are not covered by these protections," Rodriguez said in the House of Commons Thursday.

"Not only is it irresponsible, it is a clear abuse of power."

Liberals trying to hide the truth: Conservative MP

The Conservatives' motion is aimed at getting three members of the prime minister's staff before the ethics committee to provide more information on the WE Charity affair.

They also want the former chief of staff to the defence minister, who now works for another minister, to appear at the defence committee to shed more light on sexual misconduct issues in the Canadian Armed Forces.

The motion included an out: if Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appears in the aides' place, for at least three hours, that would do.

When introducing the motion, Conservative ethics critic Michael Barrett accused the Liberals of trying to hide the truth.

"All of these individuals have direct knowledge of the issues the committees have been studying and they must testify so that Canadians can have the truth," Barrett said.

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