Conservative member of Parliament Michelle Rempel Garner asks a question during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020. Federal opposition parties are promising to keep fighting to get to the bottom of the WE controversy despite what they describe as Liberal threats and stonewalling. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Conservative member of Parliament Michelle Rempel Garner asks a question during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020. Federal opposition parties are promising to keep fighting to get to the bottom of the WE controversy despite what they describe as Liberal threats and stonewalling. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Opposition parties gear up for next round of fight with Liberals over WE controversy

Among the issues the Tories want studied are Ottawa’s efforts to buy personal protective equipment

The threat of a possible snap election will be hovering over Parliament Hill this week as opposition parties resume their fight with the Liberal government over the WE controversy and preparations for the second wave of COVID-19.

Conservative health critic Michelle Rempel Garner on Sunday called for a House of Commons committee to investigate what she suggested was Ottawa’s lack of readiness in dealing with the recent resurgence in COVID-19 cases.

The request was in relation to a motion that she made to the Commons health committee earlier this month asking for a wide-ranging study on the issue, which is expected to be debated by committee members on Monday.

“Today, as businesses are closed and in another series of COVID-related economic shutdowns, we are looking for answers as to why the federal government left Canadians unprepared to deal with this second wave,” Rempel Garner told a news conference.

“That’s why this study is so important. Canadians deserve an explanation about why the federal government only has an economic shutdown to rely upon after months, and billions of dollars being spent.”

Among the issues the Tories want studied are Ottawa’s efforts to buy personal protective equipment, why rapid COVID-19 tests have not been approved as well as the decision to shutter Canada’s pandemic early-warning system last year.

Yet the real drama will surround ongoing opposition efforts to dig into the government’s decision in the spring to have WE Charity run a multimillion-dollar federal program for student volunteers during the pandemic.

The Conservatives are scheduled to have what is known as an opposition day on Tuesday, and have indicated they plan to raise one of three issues in the House of Commons that will be put to a vote.

Two relate to China and are non-binding on the government. One calls for Ottawa to impose sanctions on Chinese officials for recent crackdowns on protesters in Hong Kong, and the other to ban Huawei from Canada’s 5G network.

But the third, if supported by the three main opposition parties, would roll several committee investigations into the WE deal — and the charity’s payments to members of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s family — into one special committee.

READ MORE: Conservatives want an anti-corruption committee to probe WE Charity controversy

Rempel Garner was noncommittal on Sunday when asked if the Tories planned to push for what they are describing as an “anticorruption committee,” saying the party still has another day to decide.

“But one way or the other, we are going to get answers on this issue,” she added. “These documents should come to light.”

The comments follow Liberal filibusters on the Commons’ ethics and finance committees last week as opposition members tried to resurrect two WE investigations suspended when Trudeau prorogued Parliament in August.

The finance committee was tied up for hours Thursday over a Conservative motion denouncing redactions to more than 5,000 pages of WE-related documents released last August.

The ethics committee was similarly stalled over a Conservative motion demanding the agency that arranged speaking events for Trudeau, his wife, mother and brother, turn over receipts for all the Trudeaus’ paid engagements over the past 12 years.

The Liberals have since proposed their own special committee that would examine billions of dollars in federal spending related to COVID-19, which is closer to what the federal NDP have wanted.

At the same time, Government House Leader Pablo Rodriguez on Friday suggested that if the Conservatives push ahead with their motion on Tuesday to create a new committee, the Liberals could make the matter a confidence vote.

That would mean a possible snap election if the Conservatives, NDP and Bloc Quebecois all supported the Tories’ move to create an anticorruption committee, which would also look at what the Tories describe as other “scandals or potential scandals.”

The other potential scandals include allegations that the husband of Trudeau’s chief of staff may have benefited from the government’s program for commercial rent relief and improperly lobbied for changes to the emergency wage-subsidy programs — which federal ethics commissioner Mario Dion has already dismissed as speculative and without evidence.

They also include a contract given to former Liberal MP Frank Baylis’s company for ventilators not yet approved by Health Canada.

The Bloc did not respond to a request for comment on Sunday.

NDP ethics critic Charlie Angus dismissed Rodriguez’s threat, saying it would be “one of the most irresponsible things anybody’s ever done in the history of Canada” to plunge the country into an election now.

“Given the fact that our COVID-19 numbers are going off the charts right now, that the government would even threaten to plunge us into the chaos of an election … in order to avoid answering questions on the Trudeau relationship with WE, that would be so staggeringly irresponsible, I can’t think that he could be serious.”

And while Angus indicated an openness to the Liberal proposal for a COVID-19 committee, he suggested opposition parties were getting tired and frustrated at what he described as the government’s stonewalling over the WE controversy.

“The Liberals have said publicly that they’re ready to work on establishing the committee,” he said. “Everybody’s waiting to see if the Liberals are serious. If they’re not serious, it’s just going to make the opposition party’s even more frustrated.”

Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Conservative Party of CanadaCoronavirusLiberals

Just Posted

The Binche Fishing Derby at Stuart Lake is fast approaching. (Binche Fishing Derby Facebook photo)
Binche shares excitement for upcoming fishing derby

“It’s more than just fishing,” says Dave Birdi

A person receives a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
Local youth vaccination clinics underway

Pfizer vaccine will be used

Priya Sharma. (Submitted)
Column: Why ultimatums don’t work

By Priya Sharma It is a common misconception that people can choose… Continue reading

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

(Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Trutch Avenue in Chilliwack to be renamed to remove racist taint

New name to have Indigenous significance as Chilliwack takes new step toward reconciliation

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant grew in Canada this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s public health agency reports spike in confirmed cases of Delta variant

More than 2,000 cases of the variant confirmed across all 10 provinces and in one territory

Bella Bella is on B.C.’s Central Coast, accessible only by air and ocean. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
B.C. provides $22 million for Heiltsuk development on Central Coast

Elders care home project, tourism, lumber mill supported

Most Read