Trudeau’s Chief of Staff to Appear Before Defense Committee
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s chief of staff, Katie Telford, will appear before a parliamentary committee on Friday afternoon, CBC News has learned.
Telford offered to appear before the Standing Committee on National Defense after a week in which she was the target of Conservative attacks over her role in the military misconduct scandal rocking the Canadian Forces.
Last week, the Conservatives asked the defense committee to vote on a motion that would force Telford to appear and testify, but the committee was obstructed by Liberal MPs.
The Liberals were reluctant to call another witness when the committee had already decided to go to the drafting stage of the report. Another committee meeting was canceled earlier this week.
Telford’s appearance is just the latest development in a drama that began three months ago, when allegations of inappropriate behavior involving the country’s former military commander – the now-retired General Jonathan Vance – came to light. been published in the media.
Telford’s testimony is considered significant by Tories and New Democrats alike, who want to know how an informal allegation of misconduct involving Vance – which was raised by former military ombudsman Gary Walbourne with Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan in 2018 – was processed.
Sajjan forwarded the allegation to the Privy Council Office and the Prime Minister’s Office, but a review by federal officials came to nothing because the complainant refused to come forward and asked not to be involved.
Former PMO senior adviser Elder Marques previously told the committee he had been informed either by Telford or one of his staff of an allegation of “personal misconduct” against Vance. He also said he did not believe the prime minister had been made aware of the matter.
Motion calling on Trudeau to fire Telford defeated
The Conservatives have pressured the Liberal government to fire Telford for what they say was its failure to report all the details of the allegations against Vance to Trudeau.
“If the Prime Minister is telling the truth and he wants Canadians to believe he had no knowledge of the evidence of sexual misconduct against General Vance, he will fire his chief of staff,” O’Toole said more early this week.
A Conservative motion demanding that the Prime Minister fire his chief of staff was easily defeated in the House of Commons on Thursday when the Bloc Québécois sided with most of the government members in voting against the non-binding motion. The total vote was 209 to 122.
A Liberal MP – Bob Bratina of Hamilton East-Stoney Creek – sided with the Conservatives in the vote. He later said he accidentally pressed the wrong button while voting.
“I’m pretty sure I’m not in a position to ask the House at this point to change it, but I want to state publicly that I have the utmost respect for the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff,” said Bratina. “My intention was not to vote with the Conservatives, and I apologize for that.”