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NDP raises more questions about Morneau, WE in letter to ethics watchdog

Last Updated Nov 18, 2020 at 11:10 am MDT

NDP MP Charlie Angus speaks to reporters as he thumbs through a document following a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

OTTAWA — NDP ethics critic Charlie Angus is asking the federal ethics commissioner to consider new questions about the relationship between former finance minister Bill Morneau and WE Charity.

In a letter to commissioner Mario Dion, Angus says Morneau may have broken rules around conflict of interest and preferential treatment in allegedly green-lighting a $12-million contract for WE — one that never got final cabinet approval — shortly after co-founder Craig Kielburger emailed Morneau about a youth entrepreneurship program in April.

A Morneau spokesman says today the then-minister never signed off on the $12-million proposal, pointing to evidence submitted to a House of Commons by the Finance Department’s top bureaucrat.

Publicly released documents on the WE affair suggest some government officials thought at the time Morneau had approved it, though in any event the program didn’t go anywhere.

Angus says the familiar tone of the email and connections between the Kielburger brothers and Morneau’s family speak to a close relationship that should have led Morneau to recuse himself from decisions on the contract either way.

Dion said in a reply to Angus he has already brought the matter to Morneau’s attention in the ethics commissioner’s ongoing investigation into the ex-finance minister’s and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s roles in choosing WE to manage a separate student-volunteering program for $43.5 million.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 18, 2020.

The Canadian Press