LILLEY: Time for Mendicino to go with Bernardo transfer his latest debacle

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Don’t expect anyone to be held accountable for the latest debacle in Ottawa as Marco Mendicino isn’t resigning and he said he won’t fire anyone either. Justin Trudeau’s public safety minister has been under fire for weeks over his handling of Paul Bernardo’s transfer and of China’s interference in Canada.

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Seems that Mendicino and his department have told Canadians a lot of things that just aren’t true as he’s been defending the government, but that’s OK because no one will lose their jobs. Seems like being a Liberal means never having to take responsibility.

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Conservative MP Blaine Calkins laid out a number of reasons why Mendicino should resign as the minister appeared before a Commons committee on Thursday morning. He pointed to Mendicino not knowing about China’s targeting of sitting MPs, his declaration that China’s alleged secret police stations were all closed when they weren’t, his claim that law enforcement asked for the Emergencies Act to end the convoy (which wasn’t true), his disastrous handling of the government’s gun legislation and now Bernardo’s transfer.

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“Will he do the honourable thing and resign right here and right now?” Calkins asked.

“I am focused on one thing and one thing only and that is doing my job to protect the safety and security of Canadians,” Mendicino said.

Mendicino dismissed Calkins’ statement as being riddled with errors and not worthy of a response, but it is a fact that Mendicino’s record is awful and his constant refrain of late that he simply didn’t know doesn’t hold water. Does anyone really believe that he’s the last to know about important files in his department, such as Bernardo’s transfer or China’s intereference?

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He’d like you to think that and he’s making that part of his defence, which is a horrible look for a senior cabinet minister.

“You are the minister of public safety for Canada, you have an obligation to be informed,” Bloc Quebecois MP Kristina Michaud said to Mendicino.

Yet when it came to the decision to transfer Bernardo to a medium-security prison, Mendicino said he didn’t know until after the fact. His staff was informed three months before the transfer happened at the end of May, as was Trudeau’s office, but Mendicino, the minister in charge of the file, said he found out the day after it happened.

Does anyone really believe that?

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One Liberal talking point is that all of his staffers are too young to know who Bernardo is, but that is a false argument. First off, not all political staffers are fresh university grads. Secondly, the bureaucracy was informed as well and they aren’t exactly a flock of spring chickens.

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Asked if anyone would lose their job for keeping him in the dark, Mendicino gave a hard no in response.

We’re also asked to believe that Mendicino knew nothing about China’s interference in Canada’s democracy, including the targeting of Canadian MPs like Conservatives Michael Chong and Erin O’Toole and New Democrat Jenny Kwan, until it came out in media reports this spring. The stories on China’s interference in our democracy have been leaking out since November, so if Mendicino hadn’t gathered CSIS and other security experts in his office to demand to know what they knew before a Globe and Mail report on May 1, then he doesn’t deserve his job.

Unlike the media and unlike the opposition, Mendicino has the ability to summon CSIS and other agencies and demand to know exactly what is happening. The fact that he didn’t shows he’s not up to the job and needs to go. That might not be the right answer for his political fortunes or the governing Liberals, but it is the right answer for Canadians.

A public safety minister who is not informed and doesn’t seek to be informed is a danger to us all.

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