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Federal Conservatives call for criminal investigation into WE Charity controversy

Last Updated Jul 10, 2020 at 1:03 pm MST

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference, Wednesday, July 8, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Summary

Federal Conservatives call for RCMP investigation after WE Charity granted student grant contract despite Trudeau ties

Ethics commissioner already looking into Trudeau's involvement in decision to give WE Charity $900M contract

WE Charity has confirmed Margaret and Alexandre Trudeau were paid for speaking engagements in the past

OTTAWA – The federal Conservatives are calling for a criminal investigation after the Trudeau government gave a sole-source contract to the WE Charity, even though the prime minister’s mother and brother had previously been paid by the organization for speaking engagements.

The Conservatives are criticizing Justin Trudeau after details emerged and were confirmed by the WE Charity that Margaret and Alexandre Trudeau had received more than a quarter-of-a-million dollars in payments for speaking at events over the last four years.

Tory MP Michael Barrett says in addition to an ethics investigation — which is currently looking into Trudeau’s involvement in the government’s decision to give the WE Charity a $900-million contract to deliver the Canada Student Services Grant — the RCMP should be called in.

“It’s very clear that there is sufficient grounds for this matter to be investigated by the police,” he says.

The WE Charity confirmed on Thursday that Margaret had received $250,000 for speaking at 28 events between 2016 and 2020, and that Trudeau’s brother had been paid $32,000 for eight events between 2017 and 2018.

Aside from one instance that WE Charity says was an accounting error, all payments were made by ME to WE Social Enterprises, the for-profit entity of the charity.

 

The prime minister had said it was the public service that made the choice, however, he acknowledges cabinet gave final approval and he did not recuse himself.

“We know that there are significant financial benefits that have been received by the family of the prime minister totalling more than $350,000,” Barrett adds. “We need to find out which cabinet ministers were aware that the family had been paid. We need to find out when they knew that, and we need to find out if they had participated in the cabinet discussion relating to this.”

On top of the Trudeau family’s ties to the WE Charity, we’re now learning one of Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s daughters has an administrative job with WE. However, Morneau’s office says her job is not linked to any work the charity does with the government.

Morneau also did not recuse himself from the approval process of the contract.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister’s Office has said Trudeau’s relatives “engage with a variety of organizations and support many personal causes on their own accord.”

The statement adds, “What is important to remember here is that this is about a charity supporting students. The Canada Student Service Grant program is about giving young people opportunities to contribute to their communities, not about benefits to anyone else.”

WE has since pulled out of the agreement and will not be delivering the grant.

Democracy Watch, a non-partisan group advocating for democratic reform and government accountability, has also filed a police complaint.