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Liberal MPs block ethics commissioner from testifying before ethics committee

The commissioner was standing by ready to testify in front of the committee, when the motion was turned down by the Liberal members.

This article was published more than 1 year ago, information might not be accurate.

Cosmin Dzsurdzsa Montreal, QC

The Liberal-dominated Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics has voted against inviting Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion to testify on his groundbreaking SNC-Lavalin report.

The motion was defeated 5-4 by the Liberal majority, however, one Liberal MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith voted against the rest of his party.

The motion was put forward by Conservative MP Peter Kent, while NDP MP Charlie Angus had a further motion to call the Justin Trudeau, Bill Morneau and others to testify before the committee.

“That given the unprecedented nature of the Trudeau two report the committee invite the conflict of interest and ethics commissioner to brief the committee on his report and that the committee invites further witnesses as required based on the testimony of the commissioner,” said Kent on the motion.

Other MPs from several parties including Green Party Leader Elizabeth May spoke to call for the testimony to go forward.

“I thought I knew what transpired on the SNC-Lavalin mess based on the testimony of our former justice minis and former Attorney General, her chronology, her notes, I thought covered everything that occurred and I believed her in every syllable. But Mr. Dion’s report has shaken me far more than our former Attorney General’s testimony,” said Green Party leader Elizabeth May.

“This is really scandalous, the prime minister is guilty here of the kind of offense in which resignation is appropriate.”

Raitt went on to detail the several attempts by Dion to access information which was allegedly withheld from him through cabinet confidentiality.

“He was unable to get the relevant information that he wanted”, said Conservative MP Lisa Raitt shortly before the vote.

“This is the kind of scandal and the kind of actions that warrants the highest level of punishment.”

“This issue was studied thoroughly, the justice committee, as we heard, held over 13 hours of testimony from ten witnesses over five weeks,” said Liberal MP and committee member Steven MacKinnon

“The prime minister was clear he was focusing on protecting jobs for thousands of Canadian workers, that was his only focus.”

The commissioner was standing by ready to testify in front of the committee, when the motion was turned down by the Liberal members.

“The only conclusion that I and members of this committee can come to is that the opposition seeks to prolong this process for reasons of politics, reasons of partisan games and it is for that reason that we will be opposing this motion,” said MacKinnon.

During deliberations other Liberal MPs sitting on the committee supported having Dion testify on his findings, including Nathaniel Erskine-Smith.

“In my view, the primary motivation in this instance was to protect the public interest in jobs, the public interest was pursued improperly but at no time did the prime minister improperly further a private interest, said Erskine-Smith.

“The commissioner is legally wrong and I would like him to sit right there so he can answer questions about how he got this analysis so completely wrong.”

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