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How about a federal election? Liberals face confidence vote over proposed anticorruption committee

Last Updated Oct 21, 2020 at 9:22 am PST

Summary

On the anniversary of the Trudeau Liberals being re-elected, the government could fall on a confidence vote

The vote is over a Conservative motion, which proposes an anticorruption committee to look into issues like WE scandal

Liberals say Conservative-proposed committee would amount to nothing more than a fishing expedition

OTTAWA – For the second time in weeks, the opposition could force a federal election — at least according to the Liberals.

This time it’s over a Conservative “anticorruption motion” wanting a committee formed to bring back the WE Charity investigation, while also looking into the government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and other matters.

The Trudeau Liberals have taken it a step further, turning this into a matter of confidence in the minority government.

“Now the opposition parties have a choice: Do they want to make parliament work and work for Canadians? Or do they want to vote non-confidence and trigger [an] election? The choice, Mr. Speaker, is theirs,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday.

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The timing of this comes at a notable time, happening on the one-year anniversary of the Liberals being re-elected with the minority government.

It comes down to a confidence vote today.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says Trudeau’s decision to make a confidence matter out of the Conservative motion is “outrageous” and “absurd.”

“Let me be very clear: The only way there is an election right now is because the prime minister chooses to have one,” Singh said.

“I’m not going to be part of giving the prime minister an excuse. If he wants to have an election, let’s be clear. The question is, is there going to be an election or not? If there’s an election, it’s going to be because of Prime Minister Trudeau. It’s not going to be because of me,” Singh added.

Whether the government is going to fall or whether this is just the Liberals calling the Conservatives’ bluff remains to be seen.

The Tories have said they are willing to drop “anticorruption” from the name of their proposed committee, but Leader Erin O’Toole has said the focus of the committee will be the same: to create a disproportionately opposition-dominated committee to investigate issues, including the WE affair, the official Opposition maintains reek of the government funneling pandemic-related funding to Liberal friends.

The motion would give the committee broad powers to call witnesses, including the prime minister and other ministers, and to demand documents on a range of issues, including the speaking fees earned by Trudeau’s mother and brother over the past 12 years.

The federal Liberals have said the committee would amount to nothing more than a fishing expedition that would hinder government’s operations in a time when Canadians need it most.

They’ve proposed their own special committee to examine all government pandemic-related spending, including but not exclusively the WE affair and other matters the Opposition deems suspicious.

The matter comes as British Columbians prepare for their own election, with the provincial vote taking place on Saturday. It also comes just weeks after Trudeau himself declared Canada was in a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

So far, the health crisis has claimed close to 9,800 lives in Canada and infected more than 200,000 across the country.