Canada

Committee bid to unearth Trudeaus’ WE Charity speaking contracts fails when Bloc MP votes ‘no’ by mistake

All was going as expected until the clerk called on Bloc MP Julie Vignola, who had replaced a colleague minutes earlier. Vignola unexpectedly said: 'I am against the motion'

OTTAWA — After enduring nearly three weeks of Liberal filibustering, opposition MPs trying to acquire WE Charity speaking contracts involving Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife were shut down Monday when a Bloc Québécois MP voted against the initiative — by mistake.

It was supposed to be a straightforward vote at the federal ethics committee to force the release of all invoices for the speeches Trudeau and his wife delivered to WE Charity in the past decade.

Opposition MPs want to verify how much money WE Charity and its affiliates have paid the Trudeau family in the years leading up to the now-defunct $543.5 million deal to have WE administer a student volunteer grant program for the government.

For weeks, the Liberal members of the committee tried to thwart the vote by filibustering, filling the time with lengthy and often irrelevant speeches, calling countless points of order and asking for more amendments on amendments than anyone would care to count.

The issue came to a head last week when the minority Liberals declared a Conservative proposal to create an “anti-corruption” committee to delve into the WE scandal a matter of confidence. Had the Liberals lost the vote, Canadians would be going to the polls.

The NDP ultimately voted with the Liberals but promised to continue studying the WE Charity scandal in committees such as ethics.

So Monday, after a bit more filibustering and a few more amendments, the Conservative motion at the ethics committee was set to pass with the support from all opposition members, who outnumbered the Liberals.

All was going as expected until the committee clerk called on Bloc Québécois MP Julie Vignola, who had replaced her colleague Marie-Hélène Gaudreau just a few minutes earlier.

More On This Topic

After a few seconds of silence, Vignola unexpectedly said: “I am against the motion.”

A visibly stunned NDP ethics critic Charlie Angus laughed incredulously as he cast the final vote for the motion. But it didn’t matter anymore, the nays (five) defeated the yays (four).

In a scrum minutes after the vote, Bloc Québécois House Leader Alain Therrien admitted it had all been a mistake. Their vote had literally been lost in translation, and the party was scrambling to see if there was a way to change it.

“After weeks of stonewalling, the Liberals voted against transparency and blocked a parliamentary committee from receiving documents related to the WE scandal. It’s clear that Liberal MPs will do everything they can to hide the arrogance and entitlement of this prime minister,” Conservative ethics critic Michael Barrett wrote in a statement.

“Conservatives promised Canadians that we would get answers on the WE scandal. We will keep this promise. I’ll leave it to the Bloc to explain why they didn’t vote for our motion at the ethics committee.”

The federal finance committee is also debating resuming its investigation of the WE Charity scandal; it’s possible that opposition members on that committee succeed in unearthing the Trudeaus’ speaking fee invoices.

• Email: cnardi@postmedia.com | Twitter:

“There were many amendments that were proposed consecutively, and there were issues with translation, so there was a mistake in the vote we made. And now we are looking to see if there is a way to correct the mistake we made,” Therrien said.

In an interview, Angus said the Bloc’s vote felt like being “stabbed in the back.”

He didn’t buy Therrien’s explanation that the error was the result of translation and technical issues, particularly because the party had “unusually” swapped out Gaudreau for Vignola just before the vote.

Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, left, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak on stage at a WE Charity event in New York in 2017. Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images for We Day

“I can’t see that they would be that amateurish that on such an important vote, which held up the ethics committee since we returned in September., that they would send someone in and not tell her what the upcoming vote was. You know, you can’t run a ship like that. Bloc Leader Yves-François Blanchet knows what he’s doing,” Angus said.

The Bloc vehemently denied his allegations and said it was actively looking for ways to bring the motion back to the table.

Angus said he is planning to bring a motion to the ethics committee next week to continue studying the WE Charity scandal.

But because the committee just voted against requesting the speaking invoices, he said it’s unlikely those documents will ever make it to the committee.

“Three weeks of work that kept us up into the wee hours of the morning went out the window. And so now we are not going to get those Trudeau documents,” Angus lamented.

The Conservatives preferred not to criticize the Bloc, instead turning their frustration toward the Liberals.

Football news:

Cherevchenko is the best RPL coach in November. He was ahead of Semak and Tedesco
Ronaldo on 750 career goals: Thanks to loyal opponents. You made me work harder every day
Neymar on reuniting with Messi: next year we have to do it
Scott Micromini: I hope Manchester United will win Leipzig and away
Lampard on whether Giroud will start in the Premier League: we'll See. Forward scored 4 goals for Sevilla
Lucescu after 0:3 with Juve: Dynamo is learning, getting experience and should go to the eurovesna
You can't be half-pregnant and half-make the playoffs. Tuchel on PSG's chances in the Champions League