By Michael Potestio – Kamloops This Week
Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo MP Cathy McLeod was feeling “ready for bed” the day after a marathon 21-hour voting session instigated by her party on Thursday, March 22.
“Obviously, you needed to have the odd break in terms of the things you need to do — having a bit of food and using the facilities — but for the vast majority of the 21 hours, I was voting,” McLeod told KTW shortly after the session ended in Ottawa on Friday.
The Conservatives forced the all-nighter in the House of Commons as a procedural protest of the Liberal majority government defeating their motion to have Justin Trudeau’s national security advisor, Daniel Jean, appear before the public safety and national security committee to explain comments he made to reporters regarding the prime minister’s recent trip to India.
During that visit, Jaspal Atwal — who was convicted of attempting to murder a visiting Indian politician on Vancouver Island in 1986 — made an appearance at an event in Mumbai and was photographed alongside Trudeau’s wife and members of the Liberal cabinet.
B.C. Liberal MP Randeep Sarai initially took responsibility for inviting Atwal and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland told CTV’s Question Period that inviting Atwal was an “honest mistake,” according to an article in the Globe and Mail.
But in a briefing to reporters, Jean is said to have told a conflicting story, suggesting Atwal’s presence may have been orchestrated by factions within the Indian government to embarrass Trudeau. Jean wasn’t initially named in news stories about the briefing, but Conservative MP’s later revealed his identity in the House of Commons, according to the Globe and Mail article.
The Indian government has refuted the allegation.
The stories don’t match and McLeod said that without having the committee meeting, it remains unclear if the media was lied to in the briefing.
“We had something that I thought was a very reasonable request,” McLeod said. “If the Prime Minister’s Office was willing to let this gentleman do a briefing to the media, I think certainly the same respect — and, more importantly, it is our job for public safety — to also have that briefing.”
Conservatives triggered the voting marathon by issuing more than 250 motions opposing parts of the government’s spending estimates, on which which the House of Commons was set to vote.
Liberals MPs were forced to defeat each motion individually because, as confidence votes, any that were defeated could have triggered an election.
McLeod said the government “went to the wall” to avoid holding the hearing, even rejecting an offer to have it run for just a half hour instead of two hours.
The voting began late Thursday afternoon, lasting nearly an entire day, with McLeod managing to squeeze in an hour’s worth of sleep.
“From 12 to one,” she said.
McLeod also took to social media during the process, posting a couple GIFs of people dancing alongside her comments about the marathon, followed by one of a person collapsing on the floor when it all came to a close.
Conservative House Leader Candice Bergen told Speaker Geoff Regan the Opposition would end its long voting session at just before noon Pacific Daylight Time on Friday.
“There was significant impact on staff, there was significant impact on some of the members, so I think [Bergen], for the health and safety of everyone, made the right decision when it was clear after offer after offer for ways to negotiate, that they were not going to do anything,” McLeod said.
Despite the exhausting all-night voting that ended with the Conservatives blinking first, McLeod said she felt it was worth it, arguing their point was made.
“The government talks about transparency, they made a commitment to transparency to Canadians. They certainly have failed in terms of that commitment,” McLeod said. “They also have made some pretty serious allegations and now they’re not willing to do anything to allow Canadians or allow parliamentarians to understand what the issues are.”
McLeod said she and her fellow Conservative MPs still intend to get “to the bottom of this.
“Hopefully, the awareness of the public to the issue is heightened and, hopefully, the public is also going to be demanding the transparency this government has promised and failed to deliver,” McLeod said.