The Conservative members of parliament who supported an NDP motion to abort a justice committee video stream were directed to vote for the motion by Andrew Scheer’s office.
This information came to me directly from a Conservative source on the condition of anonymity, regarding Tuesday’s meeting of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.
Less than 10 minutes into the meeting during which the committee was about to hear testimony from Mark Steyn, Lindsay Shepherd and John Robson on free speech and online hate, NDP MP Randall Garrison introduced a motion to cancel the video broadcast in progress.
“None of the previous testimony by witnesses has been televised, and so it seems peculiar to me that only the last segment of this would actually be televised by the committee,” the British Columbia MP said before tabling the motion.
All of the justice committee’s hearings have been public. The decision to televise this particular session was sparked by a request from the committee’s Liberal chair, Anthony Housefather, citing significant interest.
Garrison’s motion was adopted unanimously, including support from the committee’s three Conservative MPs, John Brassard, Michael Barrett and Dave MacKenzie.
A whipped vote would suggest the Conservatives had prior knowledge of the motion. The source did not elaborate on the reason for the decision by the Office of the Leader of the Opposition but expressed frustration with it.
I sent two inquiries to Scheer’s spokesperson on Tuesday requesting a rationale for the whipped vote but received no response.
The Conservatives also all abstained from voting on Liberal MP Randy Boissonnault’s motion to purge from the record comments made last week by former justice committee vice-chair Michael Cooper, who was removed from the post by Scheer for those remarks.
A representative of Scheer’s office was present at the Tuesday morning meeting.