Skip to main content

Liberals slam Conservative MP Kelly McCauley for refusing Canadian embassy aid during talks in Washington

Conservative leader Andrew Scheer speaks to reporters after a caucus meeting on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, June 6, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle

PATRICK DOYLE/The Canadian Press

The Liberal government is crying foul over a Conservative MP’s decision to decline an offer to bring Canadian embassy officials to recent meetings in Washington, but the Tory backbencher says it wasn’t required.

Transport Minister Marc Garneau, who heads the Canada-U.S. cabinet committee, criticized Conservative MP Kelly McCauley for attending meetings this week in the U.S. capital, including at the Pentagon, without a briefing or logistical support from Canadian embassy officials.

“The Conservatives talk a good game about playing for Team Canada but they aren’t actually doing that. They’re either sniping from the sidelines or actively obstructing what we’re trying to achieve for Canadians at the negotiating table,” Mr. Garneau said in a statement to The Globe and Mail.

Story continues below advertisement

“For an MP of any party in the House of Commons to freelance meetings with the Pentagon, turning away support from our Embassy, is not only improper, it’s irresponsible.”

But Mr. McCauley, a first-term MP for Edmonton West, said his meetings were directly related to his work on the House of Commons government operations and estimates committee, which recently completed a study on federal procurement.

Mr. McCauley said he was in Washington this week to attend a whistle-blowers’ conference and also set up meetings with the U.S. Small Business Administration as well as with James Geurts, assistant secretary of the U.S. Navy for research, development and acquisition, at the headquarters of the U.S. Defence Department.

He said he gave the embassy a heads-up about the meetings in June and was offered to be accompanied by officials of the Global Affairs Department, but was also told that it wasn’t required. He called the meetings “boring” and said it wasn’t necessary for officials to come along.

“I think someone’s trying to make a mountain out of a molehill,” Mr. McCauley said. “Minister Garneau is either wildly misinformed about what we were meeting about, which is procurement and a whistle-blowing conference, or he’s purposefully trying to create a partisan event for political gain.”

Mr. McCauley said his discussion with Mr. Geurts, which included a procurement specialist, centred on U.S. strategies for procurement hiring. A spokesman for the U.S. Navy confirmed the meeting took place on Monday and focused on Mr. Geurts’s insights into “work force acquisition.”

Mr. McCauley added that the discussions had nothing to do with Canada-U.S. relations, including ongoing negotiations of the North American free-trade agreement.

Story continues below advertisement

“We recognize there’s difficulties going on right now. We certainly would not do anything that would get in the way of strong relations,” Mr. McCauley said.

A Canadian embassy spokeswoman confirmed that Mr. McCauley was offered logistical support as well as a briefing by senior embassy officials and staff in the Canadian defence liaison office. Spokeswoman Alexandra Vachon White said Mr. McCauley’s office cancelled a planned briefing Monday morning due to a scheduling conflict and subsequently informed Global Affairs officials in Ottawa that he would not require any support during his trip. She added that the embassy always offers support but it’s “absolutely” up to the visiting MP or senator if they want to accept it.

Derek Burney, who served as Canada’s ambassador to the United States from 1989 to 1993, said the embassy’s offer to help is “more of a courtesy” than anything else. “In my experience, it is normal for the Embassy to offer to accompany visiting MPs of any stripe on meetings with the Administration but they are not obligated to accept,” he wrote in an e-mail.

Last month, former prime minister Stephen Harper travelled to Washington to meet with U.S. President Donald Trump’s economic adviser, Larry Kudlow. Mr. Harper, who now runs a consulting business, later said the visit was in the context of his role as president of the International Democrat Union – a global association of conservatives – as well as a group called Friends of Israel. In a leaked audiotape released after the trip, Mr. Harper told a business audience in Montreal that he believes neither Canada nor the United States wants a renegotiated NAFTA deal, a claim that was dismissed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

In April, three Conservative senators met with U.S. Attorney-General Jeff Sessions about Canada’s plan to legalize marijuana. Online news site iPolitics later reported that the Canadian embassy was caught off guard by the visit.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Comments

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • All comments will be reviewed by one or more moderators before being posted to the site. This should only take a few moments.
  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed. Commenters who repeatedly violate community guidelines may be suspended, causing them to temporarily lose their ability to engage with comments.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.
Cannabis pro newsletter