(Ottawa) The Liberals came to his defense with their questions, the Conservatives were frustrated with the evasiveness of his answers, and the New Democrats failed to extricate him from his the relevance of a public inquiry. It must be said that Katie Telford had warned the deputies at the curtain raiser: for reasons of national security, her room for maneuver was “limited”.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s chief of staff echoed warnings given before her to the Standing Committee on Procedure and Business by the Prime Minister’s national security adviser, Jody Thomas, and the director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), David Vigneault.
“I will do my best to answer your questions. At the same time, I have to respect the law and the same limits [as them] when they appeared here. But what I can say is that every time we receive documents relating to security and intelligence, we turn all the stones,” she said before commenting on the debate surrounding the relevance of her attendance at the committee table.
“I am a consumer of [security] intelligence, not the one giving the briefings on the reports… These issues are extremely sensitive, and the law places limits on what I can say in public. Ultimately, I accepted the invitation, because I want Parliament to work, “explained the one whose appearance was the subject of a showdown between the Liberals and the Conservative and Bloc opposition.
The close collaborator of Justin Trudeau did not want to say, in response to a question from the elected New Democrat Rachel Blaney, if she considered that a public inquiry into foreign interference should be triggered, as claimed. opposition parties in the House. It will be up to the special rapporteur, former Governor General David Johnston, to determine this, she pleaded.
In the conservative camp, we wanted to proceed in a more surgical way, by questioning Katie Telford on allegations published last February by Global News according to which 11 federal candidates would have been financed by Beijing in 2019. is what [Jody Thomas] said when she testified here last March that the link between 11 candidates and this type of fund is inaccurate,” she said.
The Conservatives hounded the strategist on the dates on which the Prime Minister has been entitled to briefings on foreign interference since 2018, and the issues that have been discussed then. Their efforts were often in vain, which angered Tory MP Michael Cooper, blaming Katie Telford for her “reluctance” to answer questions.
Shortly before the start of Friday’s meeting, the committee received an inventory of the dates on which sessions were offered to Justin Trudeau, his ministers and his advisers who hold a security clearance allowing them to be there, from 2018 to 2023. Certainly, “nothing is hidden from the Prime Minister … certainly not by me”, assured Katie Telford to the bloquiste Marie-Hélène Gaudreau.
“Clear and genuine,” Liberal Greg Fergus said of the chief of staff’s testimony.
The Standing Committee on Procedure and Affairs is set to continue its study on foreign interference in the coming weeks.
As for David Johnston, he must publish his recommendations by May 23.
The crisis surrounding the “Chinese donation” to the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation, of which the former governor general was a member, has revived calls for his recusal.
“I remain focused on the work that awaits me,” commented the latter in response to these criticisms, Thursday, in a statement sent to La Presse.