Widening charity scandal engulfs Canada's Justin Trudeau

Cheryl Sanders
July 31, 2020

The nearly billion-dollar program came under scrutiny after it was revealed that We Charity, an organization Trudeau's family has worked for, was chosen to administer it. Trudeau's wife, brother and mother have been paid a combined $300,000 Canadian (US$221,000) for speaking at a number of WE events.

"He's presenting himself as being noble and doing it only for the children and they had lots of important stuff and as well I think also for the opposition parties, I don't think they were really interested in understanding how this happened, it was more looking at gotchya moments", she says.

"We Charity received no preferential treatment, not from me, not from anyone else", contends Trudeau.

They want more detailed answers about why WE Charity began working on and incurring expenses for the now-abandoned student-volunteering program on May 5, when it had not yet been approved by cabinet.

Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre pushes the prime minister on how much money has been paid by WE Charity to Margaret Trudeau, then assumes chairing the committee when Liberal MP Wayne Easter's power goes out - and presses the PM again.

Trudeau said he made a decision to pull the CSSG from the May 8 cabinet agenda - three days after the government's COVID-19 cabinet committee endorsed the recommendation - and asked the public service for "further due diligence".

"The fact is the Kielburger brothers carefully cultivated their relationship with you and your brand".

"Is that a resignable offense for a Prime Minister?" "Justin Trudeau's already been found guilty of breaking ethics laws twice".

"You consciously recognized in your May Cabinet meeting that such a conflict might exist ... that you were consciously aware that there was an inappropriate link to your family that would put you in a conflict".

"That is simply not true", Trudeau responded.

Testimony by a Canadian prime minister before a parliamentary committee is very unusual.

The prime minister denied that he or his government played favourites with WE Charity.

© Provided by Associated Press Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appears as a witness via videoconference during a House of Commons finance committee in the Wellington Building on Thursday, July 30, 2020.

Both Telford and Trudeau also admitted they had no idea of the significant changes the WE organization had gone through in the months before signing the contribution agreement with the government.

Those included the sudden resignation of the head of WE's Canadian board of directors in March following the lay off of over 400 employees.

"I deeply regret the situation that has unfolded here", Mr. Trudeau said Friday.

The Conservatives and NDP have called on federal ethics watchdog Mario Dion to widen his probe of Trudeau to include expenses paid by We to the prime minister's family.

It has also been revealed that Finance Minister Bill Morneau's daughters have direct ties to the charity and that his family had costs for two trips he took with the organization in 2017 partially covered.

He said he was unaware until after the CSSG was launched that they had been paid by the organization, beyond travel-related expenses.

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