The Ethics Commissioner is already investigating, but the Conservatives are calling for a criminal investigation into Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his ties to the WE Charity after the federal government handed the organization a $900 million sole-sourced contract.
The call comes in the wake of the bombshell revelations yesterday from CBC News and Canadaland who reported that, despite initial claims, WE had financial dealings with some of Trudeau’s family members, most notably his mother Margaret and brother Alexandre.
WE and its affiliates paid out some $300,000 in speaking fees to the two through the Speakers’ Spotlight Bureau over the last four years.
Federal Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion announced last Friday that he was investigating Trudeau over the choice of WE to run the grants program. Trudeau told reporters that he did not recuse himself from the cabinet discussion of the deal.
But Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre said a probe by the ethics commissioner alone is insufficient, given the new revelations about payments to Trudeau family members before Ottawa awarded WE the contract to administer the the Canada Student Service Grant (CSSG).
“It’s not just a conflict of interest. It’s much more serious than that. We have a prime minister that has used his powers to get a benefit out of an organization related to himself and his family,” he said in
The initial decision to outsource this work to a third party with ties to the prime minister’s family was criticized by some in the charitable sector and by the opposition Conservatives. Trudeau has claimed that only WE had the resources and network to roll out the program, but a Global news reporter tolf Bill Kelly today that in fact some in the charitable sector were saying that WE as a multi-national organization actually did not have the network that would make them the obvious choice for such a venture in Canada.
WE decided to pull out of the contract last week, citing the “controversy” over the partnership. WE agreed to give up the $19.5 million it was to be paid to administer the program.
Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains insisted the recommendation came from bureaucrats working at Employment and Social Development Canada. They selected WE because of its nationwide network and partnerships with other youth organizations, he told reporters. That still wouldn’t explain Trudeau’s decision to participate in the debate.