Liberals covering their butts — Again

Shame, Mr. Trudeau, shame.

Just like Elbow Gate, there is no surprise here. Someone in the Liberal caucus messed up again and the issue is left to die and disappear. Hey Justin… Is this the open and transparent Government that you promised? Ya, we didn’t think so.

The CVP will not bury the truth, we will be accountable to EVERY Canadian and if we mess up, we will admit it and if there is a price to pay for the mess up, we will pay it.

1Liberal MPs on the Procedure and House Affairs Committee voted last week to end its study of a possible breach of privilege as a result of details on the government’s assisted-dying bill being leaked to media prior to its tabling last year.

“This breach is a very serious matter and the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs was tasked with investigating it and determining the source,” Mr. Richards said in the release.

“It is very clear that the Liberal Party never had any intention of finding out who leaked the contents of this legislation to the media before parliamentarians had a chance to review it.”

*** NO shocker there, Conservative MP Blake Richards almost sounded surprised. ***

The Procedure and House Affairs Committee (PROC) had been studying a question of privilege since May, after Conservatives raised concerns with Liberal House Speaker Geoff Regan (Halifax West, N.S.) over a leak to media on the details of the government’s assisted dying legislation, Bill C-14, ahead of its tabling in the House of Commons on April 14.

Two days before then, a story in The Globe and Mail by reporter Laura Stone, titled “Liberals set to introduce assisted-dying law with strict limits, source says,” quoted a source who was “not authorized to speak publicly about the bill,” and contained details about the legislation.

The story reported that the bill, which received royal assent on June 17 and is now in effect, wouldn’t allow for “advance consent,” would include no exceptions for “mature minors,” and would exclude those applying due only to mental suffering.

Mr. Regan referred the matter to PROC for review after finding a prima facie breach of privilege last spring. The committee heard from Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould (Vancouver Granville, B.C.), acting House clerk Marc Bosc and law clerk Philippe Dufresne over five previous meetings on the subject.

It last met on June 16 before the House rose for the summer, ending the session with an almost two-hour filibuster by Conservative MP Jamie Schmale (Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock, Ont.), with a number of motions from Mr. Richards before it.

In those motions, Mr. Richards sought to call Health Minister Jane Philpott (Markham-Stouffville, Ont.), then government House leader Dominic LeBlanc (Beauséjour, N.B.), PMO communications director Kate Purchase, and PMO chief of staff Katie Telford—or Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (Papineau, Que.) himself, if possible.

Liberal MPs, who make up a majority of the nine-member committee chaired by Liberal MP Larry Bagnell (Yukon), voted down all of Mr. Richards’ motions on Sept. 29, while opposition members, including lone NDP MP David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre, Ont.), voted in favour.

The roughly 50-minute meeting kicked off with Mr. Richards speaking for about 20 minutes in favour of continuing the study. In his arguments, Mr. Richards highlighted that a breach of privilege had previously been found in April regarding leaks to media and quoted comments from Liberal Whip Andrew Leslie (Orléans, Ont.), and the government agreed to “work to ensure that this does not happen again.”

Mr. Richards said if Liberals shut down the study, it was another example of the government’s words not matching actions, and suggested it was reasonable to conclude the Liberals could be trying to “hide” something by doing so.

Liberal MP Arnold Chan (Scarborough-Agincourt, Ont.), who took the lead in responding to Mr. Richards’ comments, said while it’s “problematic” that someone would discuss “the broad parameters of legislation” before it was tabled, and that the practice isn’t “condoned,” there was no evidence to suggest it was a breach of privilege.

“From what I’ve heard from the official opposition, I haven’t actually seen any new evidence that would make me change, at least in my case, my position [from last session] with respect to the matter that’s before this committee, and that’s the question of whether the actual contents of Bill C-14 were prematurely disclosed,” said Mr. Chan.

“The distinction—and what makes it a matter of privilege—is that the actual bill itself is in the possession of someone prior to it being tabled in the House and to date there is absolutely no evidence before this committee that that actually took place, and that is the distinguishing point from previous cases of privilege.”

The Globe story shows that there was a conversation about “high level information,” he said, “but that is all.” He said in his view, the opposition motions seemed to be “nothing more than an attempt to go fishing.”

Nick Taylor-Vaisey, national director of the Canadian Association of Journalists and a writer for Maclean’s, said he’s “glad” that the committee’s study has ultimately “not come to anything,” but added that it’s “not great that they’ve talked about it at all.”

“If they had taken action or if they had pursued journalists further, if they’re really forced the issue, I think we’d be more worried,” he said. He added that he’s “heartened” the committee has moved on.

He said in efforts to serve the public interest, journalists “regularly” have conversations of a similar “nature” with such sources.

With the study now concluded with no report or recommendations being made, PROC will move on to a long list of future business, starting with hearing on Oct. 4 from Elections Canada outgoing chief electoral officer Marc Mayrand on recommendations following the 2015 federal election.



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