The Hamilton Spectator

Trudeau chief of staff Telford to testify on foreign interferen­ce in elections


The Liberals have agreed to allow Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s chief of staff to appear at a House of Commons committee next month to answer questions about foreign interferen­ce in Canadian elections, ending a two-week standoff by Liberal MPs.

Katie Telford will testify for two hours during the second week of April at the Procedure and House Affairs Committee, where Liberals were engaged in a lengthy filibuster. A motion to call her finally passed on Tuesday morning.

But Trudeau still insists that the best way to get to the bottom of foreign interferen­ce allegation­s is through an investigat­ion by the special rapporteur he named last week. Former governor general David Johnston will have until October

to review any evidence he chooses, including classified documents.

“That’s where the answers are going to come,” Trudeau said.

Amid sustained pressure from his political opponents, however, Trudeau has asked Johnston to declare by May 23 if he thinks a full public inquiry is needed.

The opposition parties have demanded an independen­t inquiry for weeks, as allegation­s about attempts by Beijing to influence the 2019 and 2021 elections swirled. Trudeau has said he will only call an inquiry if Johnston deems one to be necessary.

He accused the Conservati­ves of trying to turn the whole thing into a “partisan circus,” and demanding that Telford show up to a committee knowing full well she wouldn’t be able to answer questions about national security.

“The Conservati­ves are trying to gin up the toxicity and partisansh­ip by making a political theatre out of it and by catching Ms. Telford or others in not being able to answer direct questions,” Trudeau said.

Conservati­ve MP Michael Cooper, who brought the initial motion to call Telford to testify, said Tuesday that the Liberals will be judged by their actions.

“They have to answer for why they wasted so much time blocking and obstructin­g of the work of the committee,” he said.

“So, I’m glad at the end of the day, they have finally agreed to do what they should have agreed to all along, and that is to have Katie Telford testify. It’s critical that she testify. She’s the second most powerful person in this government.”

But opposition parties have been demanding the government produce more informatio­n about what Beijing tried to do, what Trudeau knew about it

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