Liberal MPs filibustered a parliamentary committee meeting to prevent Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's chief of staff, Katie Telford, from testifying about allegations of Beijing's interference in past elections.
Though the House of Commons is not sitting this week, members of the standing committee on procedure and House affairs reconvened to press ahead with amendments to the original motion tabled by Conservative MP Michael Cooper a week ago.
Cooper denounced the Liberals for stalling after being accused of employing "Trump-type tactics" for questioning the 2021 federal election results amid new reports of Chinese interference.
"It's been now more than 14 hours over four days that the Liberal MPs on this committee have been filibustering for hours and hours and hours on a straightforward motion to have the prime minister's chief of staff, Katie Telford, testify before this committee," he said.
"It begs the question, what does this prime minister have to hide?"
Telford has twice appeared as a witness before parliamentary committees — once during the WE Charity scandal and another time about a sexual misconduct allegation involving Canada's former top soldier.
Cooper's original motion presented last week called on Telford to appear before the committee to answer what she knew and what the prime minister knew about allegations of Beijing's interference in the 2019 and 2021 federal elections.
The Canada Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) uncovered Beijing actively working to defeat "unfriendly" Conservative MPs and secure a minority Liberal government in 2021.
According to the top-secret report, the federal spy agency identified that China used disinformation campaigns, undeclared cash donations and international students to volunteer for preferred Liberal candidates.
The NDP later rallied support to add to the witness list former national campaign directors for the Liberal Party of Canada and the Conservative Party of Canada during the 2019 and 2021 elections and senior leadership members to the past and current Conservative leaders.
The opposition MPs on the committee — four Conservatives, a New Democrat and a Bloc Québécois — had sufficient votes to pass the motion as amended.
The Liberals then proposed another amendment to gut the motion only to have former national campaign directors for all recognized parties appear before the committee.
With no support, the five Liberals obstructed the committee's work to prevent Telford from appearing before the committee.
NDP MP Rachel Blaney hoped MPs could "get to a vote quickly." However, Liberal MP Anita Vandenbeld talked for nearly an hour about why government officials like Telford should not divulge classified materials, stating it's against the law.
"So I can't imagine why, as parliamentarians, we would want to put officials into a position where they either have to break the law or be in contempt of Parliament or look like they're obfuscating," she said.
Her colleague, Liberal MP Sherry Romanado, later asked if the committee intended to "fabricate some scandal" or to "find a 'gotcha' moment."
After that, Liberal MP Wayne Long insinuated his constituents did not ask for a public inquiry and was satisfied with the current measures.
"Unless my office is in some kind of a bubble, but my phone's not ringing off the hook here," he said.
Long added that he would trust Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's "special rapporteur," whom Trudeau appointed former Governor General David Johnston, to lead the investigation into foreign interference by China.
Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre dismissed the announcement because Johnston is a Trudeau "family friend."
"Justin Trudeau has named a 'family friend,' old neighbour from the cottage, and member of the Beijing-funded Trudeau foundation, to be the 'independent' rapporteur on Beijing's interference," he said.
Conservative MP Michael Barrett said his party would not back down despite the filibuster until they held a vote.
"We're prepared to resume these meetings tomorrow or throughout the week and then again during the sitting of the House next week," he said.
Barrett admitted all opposition parties are "rightly frustrated" with the Liberals because they are holding up the committee's work on other issues, such as the new seat redistribution across the country.
"We're committed to getting answers for Canadians," he continued.
"If the Liberals want to shut down the work of all parliamentary committees to continue a cover-up, I think that tells a story to Canadians that will rightly cause them concern."