By Jeff Morris
Carleton MP and Conservative Finance Critic Pierre Poilievre told reporters during a Sunday press conference that “we don’t have to” force an election over the Liberal Government’s $912-million deal with the WE charity, which was cancelled two days earlier.
“We already got what we asked for, which was for the government to cancel the program and redirect the funds through the professional public service and make it open and transparent for all organizations,” Poilievre said at his press conference last Sunday. “Had they not done that, they could have engulfed themselves in such a serious scandal that it might have defeated their government. They knew that, and that’s exactly why they backed down.”
Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion is now investigating Prime Minister Justin Trudeau over the Liberal Government’s decision to task a $900 million summer student grant program to the WE Charity, which has ties to Trudeau’s family.
Trudeau’s first speech as the newly-elected Prime Minister of Canada in 2015 was at the WE Day event in Ottawa. Trudeau’s wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, hosts a podcast for the group called “WE Well-being” and is an official We ambassador. Trudeau’s mother, Margaret, has also appeared at a number of WE Day events. Trudeau’s brother, Alexandre, also has a relationship with WE Charity founders Craig and Marc Kielburger.
Sophie Grégoire Trudeau was in London, England in March when she contacted COVID-19. Craig Kielburger was named to the advisory board of the Leaders’ Debate Commission in 2019. The position was created by the Trudeau government to oversee election debates.
The Liberal Government said that WE would be paid $19.5 million to administer the program, but left out details. The Globe and Mail reported that We was hired to quickly recruit tens of thousands of student volunteers and place them with organizations across Canada in a COVID-19-era program called the Canada Student Service Grant.
Leeds-Grenville-Thousand-Islands and Rideau Lakes Conservative MP and NDP MP Charlie Angus both wrote to Dion separately to ask him to examine Trudeau’s conduct in relation to the contract. Dion responded to Barrett, saying Trudeau would be investigated under subsection 6(1) of the act, which prohibits public office holders from making decisions that further their own private interests or the interests of another person.
Trudeau also is being investigated under sections 7 and 21 of the act, which deal with giving someone preferential treatment and failing to recuse from a conflict of interest.
“The Prime Minister always backs down when he gets caught, and he got caught trying to give himself unlimited powers to raise taxes when the COVID crisis first began and he had to back down. This time he got taught trying to direct a billion dollars to a charity linked to his family with no open competition. He got caught, and again, he backed down probably because of the Conservative pressure. I should mention Michael Barrett’s great work in getting the ethics commissioner to open a full investigation into the Prime Minister’s personal links to this organization.”
Last Friday, WE and the federal government announced they were ending the partnership.
“This week we saw the Prime Minister have to back down after he was caught trying to give a billion dollars to a Trudeau-linked charity without allowing competition and openness from other organizations to deliver this same program.”
Trudeau announced that the pandemic-related program will be administered by federal bureaucrats.
WE Charity is an international charity and educational partner. Their organization is unique in that it operates collaborative programs both domestically and internationally. In the US, Canada, and the UK, WE Day and WE Schools are initiatives of WE Charity that educate and empower young people. WE Schools is a year-long service-learning program that nurtures compassion in students and gives them the tools to create transformative social change. And WE Day is a series of inspiring events that celebrate youth making a difference in their local and global communities.