Liberal MP cites cost of Ottawa LRT inquiry during foreign interference filibuster

A Liberal MP cited the cost of the Ottawa light rail transit inquiry to argue against a public inquiry into foreign election interference on Thursday.

Ruby Sahota raised the $14.5-million price tag of the Ottawa LRT commission during a filibuster at the Procedure and House Affairs Committee, where the government has come under increasing pressure over the foreign interference issue.

“The cost of just the public inquiry that’s being done regarding the Ottawa LRT. The LRT. For Ottawa,” she said with a laugh. “And that is a small issue in comparison to foreign interference.

“Maybe some Ottawa members of Parliament might disagree. They might think that that’s the end-all, be-all issue of importance. But the LRT doesn’t even run, from my knowledge of it, in all that large of a geography.”

Sahota then cited the cost of the public inquiry: $14.5 million as of November, when the commission released its final report.

“I think that’s going to make it hard for the Conservatives to sleep tonight. I really do. Because I know that they are fiscally responsible, or they at least claim to be fiscally responsible.”

A filibuster is a tactic used to delay a vote, and means MPs often speak for extended periods of time. Sahota spoke for about 40 minutes.

The Ottawa LRT public inquiry found the project saw “egregious violations of the public trust” and was plagued by problems in leadership and “deliberate malfeasance.”

Justice William Hourigan’s 637-page report made 103 recommendations to fix the problems with the Confederation Line and ensure the same mistakes aren’t made on other large projects.

The inquiry, which heard from more than 90 witnesses and scrutinized reams of documents, cost the province about $10 million and the city $4.5 million.

The Liberals have been under intense scrutiny in recent weeks over allegations, detailed in media reports citing unnamed security sources and highly classified documents, they did not act when warned that China was trying to interfere in the last two federal elections.

The Liberals have devoted several committee meetings this week to an extended filibuster as they face rising pressure from opposition parties.

Sahota represents Brampton North in the House of Commons. She was first elected in 2015 and was re-elected in 2019 and 2021.

With files from The Canadian Press

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