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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

"We are looking seriously at the spread and determining what our next steps should be," says Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, as the daily number of COVID-19 cases continues to climb.
427 new COVID cases is highest in Alberta ever

Central zone has 126 active cases of COVID-19

RCMP. (Black Press File Photo)
Calgary man dies in two-vehicle collision near Sylvan Lake

A semi truck collided with a SUV just east of Hwy. 781 on Hwy 11.

Shaelynn Decock and her dog Taco, who has been missing since Aug. 26. Photo Submitted
Sylvan Lake woman looking for closure for her stolen dog

Shaelynn Decock says it has been two months since she last saw her dog Taco

Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw updates media on the Covid-19 situation in Edmonton on Friday March 20, 2020. nbsp;Alberta is reporting it's highest daily number of COVID-19 cases, with 364 new infections. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta confirmed 323 COVID-19 cases Tuesday

Central zone active cases at 145

Jay “Chef” Scotian poses for a photo in his new location in Sylvan Lake. Eat Coast Market and Grill will be holding a “Donations for Donairs” fundraiser for Haley Wile on Oct. 24. Photo by Megan Roth/Sylvan Lake News
Sylvan Lake business fundraising for local woman paralyzed in car accident

Haley Wile was in a serious car accident which left her paralyzed from the waist down

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson, B.C. NDP leader John Horgan and B.C. Greens leader Sonia Furstenau. (Black Press Media)
VIDEO: One day until B.C. voters go to the polls in snap election defined by pandemic

NDP Leader John Horgan’s decision to call an election comes more than a year ahead of schedule and during a pandemic

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

U.S. border officers at the Peace Arch crossing arrested two men on California warrants this week. (File photo)
Ottawa predicts system delays, backlogs unless court extends life of refugee pact

Canada and the United States recognize each other as safe places to seek protection

Conservative member of Parliament Michelle Rempel Garner, left to right, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole and Conservative Deputy Leader Candice Bergen arrive to hold a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
No-confidence showdown over sweeping Tory motion on government handling of pandemic

The Conservative motion is to be put to a vote Monday and has the support of both the Bloc Québécois and NDP

From l-r., first lady Melania Trump, President Donald Trump, moderator Kristen Welker of NBC News, Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden on stage at the conclusion of the second and final presidential debate Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020, at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Trump, Biden fight over the raging virus, climate and race

Republican president declared the virus, which killed more than 1,000 Americans on Thursday alone, will “go away.”

JJ Collett Natural Area Foundation held its AGM on Oct. 19 at the Ponoka Legion. (Emily Jaycox/Ponoka News)
De-listing Alberta parks creates ‘risk’ for coal mining: CPAWS

Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society speaks at JJ Collett AGM

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Temporary COVID-19 testing sites coming to Wetaskiwin and Ponoka

The Wetaskiwin location will open Oct. 23, 2020 and the Ponoka location will open Oct. 29.

ACC President and CEO Ken Kobly spoke to Ponoka Chamber of Commerce members over Zoom on Oct. 20. (Image: screenshot)
Alberta chambers are ‘411’ to members, government: ACC president

Changes to government supports, second wave and snap election

Smartphone showing various applications to social media services and Google. (Pixabay photo)
National media calling for level playing field with Google, Facebook

In Canada, Google and Facebook control 80 per cent of all online advertising revenues

Most Read