LILLEY: Singh should take coalition off table if PM ignores inquiry call

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Jagmeet Singh is calling for David Johnston to step down as Justin Trudeau’s special rapporteur and a public inquiry to be called. The NDP leader has even tabled a motion in the House of Commons that will be voted on later this week and calls for an independent inquiry.

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“Given the clear apprehension of bias at this point, we are going to be asking for Mr. Johnston to step aside,” Singh told reporters ahead of question period on Monday.

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Singh said that he has not attacked and will not attack Johnston personally, but that there is an increasing appearance of bias that surrounds his work, including the hiring of a longtime Liberal donor to act as his general counsel.

“We believe a public inquiry — the rigour and the scrutiny of a public inquiry — is the only path to re-instil confidence in our electoral system,” Singh said.

The motion will be debated on Tuesday with a vote likely coming on Wednesday. In March, the House passed a motion calling for a public inquiry with a vote of 172 in favour to 149 against.

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It was the Liberals who opposed an inquiry then and likely will now as well.

This motion, like the last one, calls for all parties to have a say in who will lead the inquiry.

Undoubtedly, this motion will pass and then the question becomes whether Trudeau ignores the will of Parliament on the matter of an inquiry for a second time.

“It is not just with the protection of people like me, who is a member of Parliament, but it is also for everyday people who face those dangers every day; they need to be protected,” NDP MP Jenny Kwan said.

Kwan is one of the MPs targeted by China along with Conservative MP Michael Chong and former Conservative leader Erin O’Toole. CSIS briefed Kwan on how China was targeting her and although she couldn’t reveal Beijing’s tactics, she said this went back as far as the 2019 election.

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O’Toole was informed by CSIS last week that he was targeted by China while he was the Conservative leader, including during the 2021 election. The Conservatives raised the issue of China’s interference both during and after the 2021 campaign, but their concerns were ignored until information from security briefings was leaked to the media.

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Now we know that a hostile foreign nation has been targeting MPs across party lines, including a party leader, and only one party doesn’t want to have a public inquiry — the Liberal party.

If the prime minister had let MPs do their work at the committee level instead of blocking that work, then I might agree with Trudeau. Instead, he went out of his way to keep details of China’s interference from becoming public.

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Singh has taken the right step in putting another motion before Parliament to call for an inquiry, but he needs to go one step further and tell Trudeau that if one isn’t called, the coalition is off. That won’t plunge Canada into an election, it would simply mean the government would need to seek the support of one of the opposition parties to pass legislation.

If Trudeau continues to refuse to call an inquiry, all parties should unite to block anything from passing through Parliament until one is called.

The majority of MPs want an inquiry called and they need to use the tools at their disposal to force the government’s hand.

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