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Katie Telford appears as a witness via videoconference during a House of Commons finance committee in Ottawa on July 30, 2020.Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

The Prime Minister’s chief of staff, Katie Telford, is prepared to testify Friday before the House of Commons defence committee on the issue of sexual-misconduct allegations against former chief of the defence staff Jonathan Vance.

Ann-Clara Vaillancourt, a spokesperson for the Prime Minister’s Office, told The Globe and Mail on Thursday evening that Ms. Telford has offered to appear before the committee at Friday’s meeting. The official notice of the meeting did not list any witnesses as of Thursday evening.

The national defence committee is scheduled to meet Friday afternoon to resume a study into the allegations against Mr. Vance and broader issues of sexual harassment in the Canadian Forces. The committee study has been in limbo because of a standoff between the Conservatives and the Liberals over whether Ms. Telford should appear as a witness.

Opposition parties have said they want to hear from Ms. Telford to find out whether she briefed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau regarding allegations against Mr. Vance, and if not, why not. Mr. Trudeau says he did not personally know about the matter until he learned of it in news reports.

Former military ombudsman Gary Walbourne said in March that he met with Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan in 2018 and informed him of allegations against Mr. Vance, who was then chief of defence staff.

Mr. Walbourne had said he attempted to show evidence to the minister, but Mr. Sajjan refused to review it. Mr. Sajjan later told MPs that he felt it would have been inappropriate for him to review such a complaint. Mr. Sajjan informed his chief of staff, who informed the Prime Minister’s Office. The PMO then referred the matter to public servants at the Privy Council Office.

Liberal MPs had previously resisted opposition requests to call Ms. Telford as a witness, arguing that the focus should be on writing a report on the matter.

The Conservative Party escalated the dispute this week in the House of Commons, moving a motion that called on the Prime Minister to fire Ms. Telford “for failing to notify [the Prime Minister] about a serious sexual harassment allegation at the highest ranks of the Canadian Armed Forced and for being complicit in hiding the truth from Canadians.”

The motion was defeated Wednesday in a 209-122 vote, with NDP, Bloc Québécois and Green Party MPs voting with the Liberals.

“For a week, the Trudeau Liberals have blocked Katie Telford from testifying on her role in this cover-up. Now she’s suddenly available. What’s changed?” asked Conservative MP and national defence critic James Bezan in a statement Thursday evening.

Mr. Bezan said his party will use Friday’s meeting to “continue to push for answers on the cover-up of sexual misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces.”

Major Kellie Brennan has alleged she was in a relationship with Mr. Vance while she was a subordinate. She has also testified to MPs last month that Mr. Vance ordered her to lie about the relationship and that there would be “consequences” if she did not follow his orders.

Mr. Vance has denied any wrongdoing in an interview with Global News but has not provided any additional comment in response to Maj. Brennan’s allegations.

The government announced last week that it has appointed former Supreme Court justice Louise Arbour to examine sexual harassment and misconduct in the military, including options to establish an independent reporting system for complaints.

The appointment came six years after another former Supreme Court justice, Marie Deschamps, provided a federal report that urged Ottawa to create an independent body to receive complaints.

The Deschamps report said it “heard repeatedly from participants that the only way to increase the frequency of reporting is to create a reporting mechanism outside of the chain of command.” It also noted that such a body already exists in the United States, Australia and France.

That report also found “an underlying sexualized culture” in the Canadian Forces “that is hostile to women and LGBTQ members, and conducive to more serious incidents of sexual harassment and assault.”

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