Her first day on the House of Commons’ standing committee on finance was a memorable one for Cloverdale -Langley City Conservative MP Tamara Jansen, who said she felt muzzled by Wayne Easter, the Liberal chair of the committee, when he turned off her microphone during a contentious Thursday, Oct. 8 meeting.
Jansen and other Conservative members of the committee were pressing the government about the We Charity affair when it happened.
WE Charity was put in charge of delivering the Canada Student Service Grant (CSSG), but that was canceled after the charity’s links to Trudeau and former finance minister Bill Morneau came out.
On the Thursday meeting, Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre introduced a motion to demand un-redacted We documents “pertaining to speaking appearances arranged, since October 14, 2008, for Justin Trudeau, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, Margaret Trudeau and Alexandre Trudeau” and that the agency reveal “the fee provided, any expenses that were reimbursed and the name of the company, organization, person or entity booking it.”
The initial request had been made in July, but when Prime Minister Trudeau prorogued parliament, committee investigations into the WE controversy ended.
When Poilievre tried to revive the request, Easter suspended the meeting just as Jansen was preparing to weigh in on the issue.
“As I was about to speak, [Easter] denied me the floor,” she recalled.
“And when MP Poilievre defended my right to speak, Mr. Easter hit the mute button to suspend the proceedings. No vote. No consensus. Just static.”
Jansen was “shocked” at the move.
“So much for openness and transparency,” she told the Langley Advance Times.
A protest has been lodged.
“Unfortunately, the Liberals have been unwilling to present the information requested,” Jansen said.
“Way back in February, the Liberals argued that such a document request would be too much to ask of their overworked staff during a pandemic. However, once the motion passed by a majority, they proceeded to have their super busy staff redact all the documents rather than have the Law Clerk do it as per the motion. Wash, rinse and repeat at Finance Committee regarding the We Charity documents.”
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Jansen said the meeting was suspended when became clear that “a majority of the members would vote in favor of forcing the Liberals hand.”
“As parliamentarians, we are accountable to Canadians to not only say we want openness and transparency but to actually be open and transparent. Documents covered in black ink are not transparent. Committee Members stripped of their right to speak is the opposite of openness.”
Jansen was appointed to the House of Commons’ bi-partisan standing committee on finance on Oct. 6 and joined several other MPs on the bi-partisan committee.
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According to ourcommons.ca, the mandate of the standing committee on finance is to “study and report on all matters relating to the mandate, management and operation of selected federal departments and agencies, including the Department of Finance and the Canada Revenue Agency, and to conduct pre-budget consultations.”
The committee consists of 12 MPs: six Liberals, four Conservatives, one Bloc Québécois, and one New Democrat.