The leader of the separatist Bloc Quebecois Party said Wednesday that if Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau does not resign over the We Charity scandal than he would be open to triggering an election this fall.
“My position and the Bloc’s position is clear. Mr. Morneau, Mr. Trudeau, and I would add Miss Telford, should all resign because it would be better to keep a certain stability in the government to manage the crisis,” said Yves-François Blanchet, leader of the Bloc Quebecois to reporters on Wednesday in French as translated to English.
“What’s worse, is it worse to find ourselves in an election campaign than to leave people at the wheel who are managing this financial scandal, and who have really done a dubious job of managing taxpayer’s money?”
The Bloc Quebecois is a regional political party in Canada that seeks independence of the mostly French-speaking province of Quebec and speaks mostly to issues affecting Quebec.
Blanchet said it was not his “first choice” to trigger an election but if needed would “do it,” and promised in the coming months to ask the question again.
He also said he would consult with his fellow Quebecers about the idea of a fall election should Trudeau, Finance Minister Bill Morneau, and Trudeau’s chief of staff Katie Telford not resign.
A reporter asked Blanchet if it was “even safe” to trigger a fall election considering the “pandemic” taking place.
Blanchet replied by saying, “Which is more dangerous. A mismanagement of a crisis or taking the time to change the people who are managing the crisis.”
“I’m not the one to impose an answer to that, but it is the job of the parliament to do so.”
During the Wednesday press conference, Blanchet said that in addition to the WE Charity scandal, parliament needs to deal with Trudeau’s handling of his government’s spending as a result of the extraordinary powers granted to them in the name of combating the coronavirus.
“Does Justin Trudeau’s government deserve our confidence, does his government deserve the confidence of Quebecers and Canadians?”
In answering yet another question from a reporter about his call for Trudeau to resign, Blanchet said, “which is worse” to keep the Trudeau government or replace them with one that is “better suited for the job.”
When asked if he has spoken to other opposition parties about his calling for a fall election, Blanchet said that they have not had any formal ones, but that some “might come” in the next few days.
Both Trudeau and Morneau are currently under investigation by the ethics commissioner. They have both issued apologies for not recusing themselves from their cabinet discussions to approve the now-canceled contract with the WE Charity, which would have seen WE get up to $43.5 million to administer the Canada Student Service Grants program (CSSG).
The CSSG was designed to give grants to students in kind for volunteering but has been put on hold after the WE Charity agreement was dissolved.
The WE Charity investigation is Trudeau’s third ethics investigation since becoming prime minister in 2015.
At a July 30 House of Commons finance committee meeting, Conservative M.P. Pierre Poilievre repeatedly needled Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau to come clean with the exact dollar amount his family has received from WE Charity appearances.
Trudeau is facing a backlash because his mother and brother received an estimated $300,000 in the last four years to speak at WE events. It was revealed his wife was paid $1,400 to speak at a WE Day event back in 2012.
Trudeau’s finance minister, Bill Morneau, recently told the finance committee that he wrote a check for $41,366 as reimbursement for WE Charity travel expenses he had incurred for two family trips with the organization in 2017.
In a rare move for a Canadian prime minister, Trudeau appeared as a witness at the July 30 meeting to testify before the committee to speak to his government’s relationship with WE Charity.
The Bloc Quebecois currently holds 32 seats in the Canadian House of Commons. The Liberal Party under Trudeau holds the most seats in the House of Commons, at 156 seats. This is out of the 338 total House of Commons seats, meaning the Liberals are 14 seats shy of a majority.
The Conservative party holds 121 seats, while the NDP holds 24 seats. The remainder of the seats are held by the Green party at three seats, and two independents.
To bring the Trudeau government down in a no-confidence vote and force an election, the Bloc Quebecois would need the support of all of the Conservative party, and the three Greens and two Independents to pass a motion of no confidence.
They could also pass a vote of no confidence with the support of the NDP, but they have stated they are open to continuing their support for the Trudeau government so long as they support measures important to their party, such as Employment Insurance reform.
Back in May, the Liberals, NDP, and the Green Party voted in favor of suspending regular sittings of the House until the fall.
The only House meetings currently being held are those of the COVID-19 committee, and Trudeau has been called out for his infrequent attendance at those meetings.
The Conservative Party is in the midst of a leadership race but this will be concluded by the end of August.
Blanchet, along with outgoing Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer first called on Trudeau to resign in July.
In July, Scheer said Trudeau and Morneau needed to “step aside for the good of the country,” and that the “entire scandal reeks of corruption at the highest levels of the federal government.”
The four candidates in the running for party leadership, Dr. Leslyn Lewis, M.P. Derek Sloan, former MP Peter MacKay, and MP Erin O’Toole have all in some way promised to hold Trudeau to account.
O’Toole told reporters Wednesday that the Liberal government should be “put out of its misery” but said he would talk with his caucus “before I do anything” in triggering a fall election should he win.
WE Charity has announced that it is canceling WE Days “indefinitely” and is focusing on restructuring.
Moreover, performances at WE Days “have been repeatedly criticized by family values organizations over the years for their raunchy lyrics and suggestive dance routines,” observed Parents As First Educators (PAFE) president Teresa Pierre in an email to supporters.
PAFE has called for people to write to their school Trustees to demand that their local school boards cut ties with the WE Charity.