As we all know, we have invited Zita Astravas to come to our committee. We know that we have had an order from the House of Commons to have her appear at this committee and that she has failed to appear on either of those occasions.
We know from testimony we've received from Elder Marques, Minister Sajjan, Katie Telford, Michael Wernick and Janine Sherman that nobody seems to know how the concerns raised by Zita Astravas regarding the allegations of sexual misconduct and evidence that were presented by Gary Walbourne to Minister Sajjan were received in the Prime Minister's Office and the Privy Council Office.
Mr. Marques said he was notified to look into the matter by Katie Telford. Katie Telford said she believed she was told by Elder Marques about the allegations against General Vance. We have Michael Wernick, who said he was contacted about it by the Prime Minister's Office.
The only person who can shed light on how the information flowed is Zita Astravas. We need her to appear to answer questions related to who she phoned, who she talked to and how many times she talked to different people within the Prime Minister's office and the Privy Council Office.
We also have the claim made by Katie Telford at the meeting at which she testified that she knew that what was being alleged did not present a safety concern. Who told her it was not a safety concern? I believe that Zita Astravas, who received first-hand information from Minister Sajjan, would be in the best position to answer how they knew this wasn't a safety concern and also how these allegations became reported as sexual harassment within all official documentation that flowed from the Prime Minister's Office to the Privy Council Office.
Now, if Ms. Astravas refuses to appear, I think that is an issue that needs to be considered as potential contempt of Parliament. I also believe that if she's unprepared to appear or if the government decides that ministers will appear on behalf of political staff, I then think it's only right that the Minister of National Defence, Harjit Sajjan, will appear alongside the former military ombudsman Gary Walbourne so we can get down to the facts instead of having, “I said this, and he said that.” We need to have both witnesses sitting as a panel in front of this committee no later than May 27 if we cannot have Zita Astravas appear.
Interestingly, allegations came to light on Friday, at the end of a sitting week and before a break week for the House of Commons, against Major-General Dany Fortin, who's been seconded over to the Public Health Agency of Canada.
There's no question that the Canadian Armed Forces has been rocked by all of these allegations of sexual misconduct. There is now concern that the government actually knew about this for weeks. Prime Minister Trudeau said in his presser this morning that he was aware of these allegations and that he didn't do anything with them for several weeks. Canadians need to know how that information flowed and why it took so long to have General Fortin step aside while this investigation is ongoing. Major-General Fortin is saying that he just learned of these allegations when media approached him on them last week.
The Prime Minister was aware several weeks ago, so are we looking at another cover-up of sexual misconduct allegations in the Canadian Armed Forces, which as actually been compounded by the Prime Minister and his staff themselves? We need to drill down, and that's what paragraph (b) is about.
Paragraph (c) ensures that this committee will get to have a report tabled in the House before summer break. Essentially, we can start and still hear from witnesses that this motion calls to hear. We can have at least one meeting a week and have one meeting a week dedicated to consideration of the draft report and making additions to it as required, based upon new testimony that we hear. The purpose here is to ensure that by the end of business on Friday, May 28, we will then proceed to the approval of all outstanding paragraphs and recommendations in that report by a simple vote by roll call.
We'll go paragraph by paragraph, recommendation by recommendation if it's required, because the committee has been stalled on discussing elements of the report or on the recommendations themselves.
Madam Chair, this essentially is an autopilot motion to ensure that we get to the final end of this, that the report will be tabled, that it does provide a provision for minority reporting or supplemental opinion, if one or more of the parties sitting around this table are not comfortable with all of the recommendations, different paragraphs and language within the report.
I think it's fairly straightforward, although this is a fairly lengthy motion. It's clear to everyone that this is about getting down to who knew what, and when, bringing clarity to the conflicting testimony that we've heard from numerous witnesses, including the Minister of National Defence, Harjit Sajjan; Katie Telford, chief of staff to Prime Minister Trudeau; Elder Marques, a former senior adviser to Prime Minister Trudeau; and officials in the Privy Council Office.
I'm done. Thank you, Madam Chair.