After a week of allegations of cronyism the Liberal government has cancelled the $900-million contract with WE Charity to run a student volunteer program. From the moment it was announced, the sole-source deal almost immediately ran into a storm of opposition criticism and media questions.
The plan was that the new Canada Student Service Grant will be administered by WE Charity, an international charity that organizes large-scale WE Day events for young people that frequently feature Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, as keynote speakers.
The deal was quickly slammed as cronyism by the opposition and questions were raised about how the charity would manage the program, its plans to hire hundreds of volunteers for itself through the program it would also be administering, and plans to pay teachers to recruit students.
Until Friday, the government had defended the organization and its decision to award the charity the massive contract. “Moving forward they will not be managing the program,” read a statement from Bardish Chagger, the minister for diversity, inclusion and youth, on Friday. He went on to say that it was a mutual decision.