Where’s Katie?

For eleven hours Tuesday the Liberals pretended she didn’t exist. At least not for the purpose of answering questions on what she knew and when she knew it.

The government is desperately filibustering a House of Commons committee that wants the Prime Minister’s chief of staff to answer questions about foreign interference in Canada’s electoral system. Apparently the promise of being the most transparent government in Canadian history doesn’t apply when transparency might be embarrassing.

I have been holding off writing about the electoral interference issue as I was waiting for a bit more clarity before posting, but now I figure that may be a while. So we have today, probably another post tomorrow as well. Today is about the optics of the situation.

Governments live and die on perceptions. Justin Trudeau managed for years to talk about “suuny ways” – even when his government was doing dark things. The branding, especially his personal brand, was accepted by the public – even if it didn’t match reality.

In recent weeks though they have increasingly had an optics problem. The Liberals do not look good. And they seem to look worse with each passing day. By not allowing Katie Telford to testify before committees, by saying there is nothing to worry about as each day the press reports new allegations of foreign interference, the perception is that there is a cover-up going on.

While members of the PM’s staff don’t usually testify before Commons Committees, there is precedent. Telford herself has done so twice before. Mind you, in both those cases, one involving improper use of funds and the other a sexual assault scandal, she wasn’t able to make the government look good.

If the Liberals have been hiding something, they certainly don’t want her testifying under oath, just in case she is the sort of person who takes the oath seriously. Stonewalling may look bad – but it is possible transparency would look worse for the Liberal party.

Was there significant foreign interference in the past two Canadian elections? Probably not (with the key word there being “significant”). Were there attempts by foreign governments to manipulate the results? Almost certainly.

Did they succeed? Well, they may have affected the outcome in some ridings. Which ones? The government won’t say. Though it is easy to look at the numbers and see where the most likely locations are. Tough to argue with numbers.

How much did the Prime Minister know about the attempts? He says nothing. The Liberals don’t want his chief of staff to testify.

Maybe they are afraid she will say that she knew and told him. Where would that leave them?

They have to be hoping their filibuster will be successful. At this point I don’t know how it can be. The more they stall, the more it looks like they are guilty of something.

If you love watching politics, this is a lot of fun. If you care about democracy, maybe less so.


One comment

  1. Dawn Swibold · · Reply

    I just made a fresh bag of popcorn.

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