…or is there?
After months of hiding, Katie Telford will appear before a House of Commons committee today. Don’t expect to learn anything.
Telford, the Prime Minister’s chief of staff, will do her best to not answer questions about foreign interference in Canada’s electoral system. She has a problem though.
If she was briefed by security officials and didn’t tell her boss about something so important, it raises questions about her competency. And I don’t think anyone has ever suggested Katie Telford was incompetent. You don’t get to be the Prime Minister’s chief of staff unless you are exceptional at everything.
But she can’t say she told the PM about the allegations – has has denied being aware of them. You see the problem? My guess is that she will have to be very vague and argue that for national security reasons she can’t give specifics. I suspect therefore that at some point she will be asked “who is lying here, you or the Prime Minister?”
How can she answer that? This isn’t the United States where you can hide behind the Fifth Amendment. Non answers are revealing. (After all, it was only a few weeks ago that the PM finally admitted that it was he who stayed in a $6,000 a night hotel room in London when he visited for Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral. For months he had refused to answer teh question – and by his refusal it was obvious that he was the one who put the taxpayers on the hook for such an exorbitant amount.) .
The whole thing will be a media circus that could have been easily avoided if the government had been more transparent when allegations of foreign meddling in the electoral system first surfaced. Reveal what you know, take your lumps if it makes you look bad and move on. Canadians are a forgiving people and we know our politicians are human. Instead the government chose to stonewall, refusing to answer questions and telling the media and MPs that there was nothing to see, that teh outcome of teh election hadn’t been influenced by the alleged actions.
The national election maybe. But what about individual Members of Parliament? Were there some who won their seats thanks to foreign interference? Nothing to see here, next question please.
Refusing to answer, filibustering a committee to prevent Telford from testifying, and accusing the Opposition of politicizing the issue just makes people wonder what it is you are trying to cover up. The self,-proclaimed “most transparent government” in Canadian history, through poor messaging, managed to look like it was hiding something. If you have nothing to hide, whay does it look like a cover-up?
Foreign interference input elections is a serious matter. If it did take place, it is possible, even likely, that the candidates receiving the support were unaware of the source. They can be forgiven for that. It would teach all candidates to be more vigilant.
If they did know that they were breaking the law, that is an entirely different story. The frantic attempts to prevent Telford from testifying has Canadians wondering
Testimony before parliamentary committees usually follows a prescribed form. There’s an opening statement, then questions, as government and opposition members take turns. The witnesses do their best to control the narrative, giving the answers they want, not necessarily what the questioners want.
I expect Katie Telford is very good at not answering questions while filling the allotted time. from what I have observed so far, only a public inquiry into foreign election interference will provide the answers Canadians need to renew their faith the the electoral process. The Liberals don’t want that. You have to wonder why.
Today’s committee meeting might be an interesting spectacle. You can catch it live at none Eastern Time online at www.cpac.ca..