The slow grind of the story of alleged interference by Beijing’s communist government in Canadian elections continued this week.
The Prime Minister announced that he will appoint a special rapporteur to investigate these claims. This has placated few outside of Liberal partisans and a small group within the national media. Most everyone else is calling for a public inquiry or a judicial review.
Conservatives have been trying to get PROC – the Parlimentary committee for Procedure and House Affairs – to compel Trudeau’s Chief of Staff to testify. Katie Telford, according to some knowledgeable observers, would have been briefed by CSIS had Canada’s intelligence agency sought to inform the government about domestic electoral interference by a hostile foreign power. It is reported that CSIS briefed the government on China’s actions on two previous occasions.
The Liberals on the committee are employing stalling tactics, such as filibustering and even not showing up to meetings, to prevent the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff and longest running senior advisor from testifying before the committee.
For their part, Liberals seem to complain that it is unusual for staff to testify before Parliamentary committees. This is true and usually held as a courtesy by all parties. Indeed, as they argue, it is the politicians who accountable for the actions of their staff that act on their behalf. However, Telford has testified before committee during two previous occasions. Further, if she was briefed on foreign interference, she is a key witness that can provide insight on the government’s response.
She also wouldn’t be the first PMO Chief of Staff to testify before committee. All three Prime Ministerial Chiefs of Staff in the Harper government (Ian Brodie, Guy Giorno, and Nigel Wright) testified before various Parliamentary committees as I noted in 2019.
Telford could be of service to her government by testifying about whether she was briefed by CSIS. The Prime Minister maintains that he was not briefed on Liberal election candidates receiving funds from China. If so, this is concerning as this is what the supposed CSIS leaks allege. The Prime Minister is either wilfully ignorant about this affair, dangerously incompetent, or the allegations themselves are entirely work of fiction.
It would serve Canadians to find out one way or the other.