Government House Leader Pablo Rodriguez announced today that in place of the Prime Minister or his staff, he will testify in their stead to the parliamentary committee about the controversial WE deal. Furthermore, one of Trudeau's senior advisers , Rick Theis, will not appear before the committee.
In a letter to the chair of the House of Commons ethics committee yesterday, Rodriguez said that "staff are not elected members of the House, they do not have the same rights and privileges as MPs. Calling staff to testify at committee is at odds with the long-standing principle of ministerial responsibility."
"Accordingly, Mr. Rick Theis, director of policy to the prime minister, has been instructed to not appear before the committee. In his place, I will attend the meeting on behalf of the government."
Last week, the Conservatives sponsored a motion that would call for Theis and additional Liberal staff members to testify at the ethics committee.
Shortly before Rodriguez issued the above statement to the ethics committee, MPs Pierre Poilievre and Michael Barrett attempted to force the prime minister himself to appear—if his staff would not.
"If Trudeau staffers can't testify, then he can," Poilievre said yesterday. "We ask him to testify for no less than four hours before the ethics committee in person. He can answer why his staff were engaged in a long string of correspondence with the WE brothers about setting up programs and grants of taxpayer money."
Barrett criticized Rodriguez's decision to attend the committee meeting in place of the accused, noting that MPs passed a motion calling on the Prime Minister and his staff in particular.
"Nowhere does it include any reference to the government House leader," he added. "For over a week, the Liberals have used the excuse that ministers should testify before the committee. The key players in Trudeau's WE scandal work for the prime minister, not the government House Leader."