Kielbuddy Justin Trudeau testifying today before committee

MPs probe PM's central role in WE scandal

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It’ll be like Question Period, but the Speaker is Wayne Easter

During the dinner hour yesterday, the Standing Committee on Finance had some housekeeping to do: how to handle the upcoming testimony of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Chief of Staff Katie Telford. The pair will provide their accounts of how the beleaguered Canada Student Service Grant came to be and how a paper company of the Kielburgers — with no assets and no staff — was to handle close to one billion dollars of public money.

We’re told that the Liberal Members of committee filibustered debate of the Prime Minister’s appearence, attempting to keep his time to one hour but finally lost the day when the committee voted to hear three hours from the PM. Testimony begins at 3pm Ottawa time. You can watch it live on ParlVU. I’ll also try to clip the good parts for twitter in real time.

What will we be watching for?

1) Questions about Trudeau’s proximity to WE. Questions about Trudeau’s own experience with speaking fees as it relates to past and current conflicts of interest. Questions about how he had the confidence in the Kielburgers (ie. these guys? Really?) What did he know about his family’s financial involvement with WE? Questions about political advertising featuring the Prime Minister provided by a third party organization. Questions about his moral and legal obligations with respect to those who lobby him and his cabinet.

2) The best defence that Liberal Chair Wayne Easter can offer. The Kielburger naivité and the aggressiveness of the Conservative and NDP opposition members had the Chair stepping in many times to allow the Kielbrothers the opportunity to tell their story — often to the dismay of members who frequently complained that the pair were killing time.

To Easter, the Kielburgers made Trudeau vulnerable, but now his boss — and at the end of the day, the only one who matters to Liberals — is coming in hot. Easter will look for any opportunity to shut down MPs who try to focus their lenses on Trudeau’s trajectory. He will limit Trudeau’s time at the perihelion and let Trudeau speak at length, making the broadest orbits around the point — ensuring that the observation of a Liberal Prime Minister’s approach to accountability is as rare the sighting of a comet.

3) Opposition clips. The Conservative and NDP members of the opposition will be looking for clippable moments of them holding the Prime Minister to account. They will need to balance their own desire to offer testimony with the need to find and exploit the inconsistencies with the Prime Minister’s own accounting of the WE scandal.

4) Answers. If there’s time.

Amanda Alvaro offers passionate defense of WE

Liberal spinner Amanda Alvaro found herself wrapped up in WE intrigue this month as it was revealed that her charity Artbound may have put Liberal decision makers Katie Telford and Seamus O’Regan a little to close to WE when the PMO and cabinet were considering their eligibility of a sole-sourced contract for WE.

Alvaro stood up for WE and defended the charity’s record of good works, blaming ‘cancel culture’ for the trouble now facing the Kielburgers. Like Bari Weiss, Andrew Sullivan, and Matt Taibbi before her, we’re looking forward to subscribing to her newsletter.

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