Craig and Marc Kielburger, the co-founders of WE Charity, in their appearance before the House of Commons Finance Committee, insisted that WE was “not chosen for this work by public servants because of our relationships with politicians,” rather that they were picked for their 25 years of experience and ability to build the new program. The testimony comes on a day when some of its biggest sponsors have begun to reassess their ties to the organization including Telus Corp., which has dropped its multiyear sponsorship, British corporate partner Virgin Atlantic Airways, and a charity connected to Prince Harry that has questioned WE officials about the scandal.
In the opening statement the Keilburgers admitted that the scandal is threatening the survival of their enterprise. They also acknowledged that they had allowed their corporate affairs to become overly complicated with a web on interrelated entities shifting money to each other. Also today the former board chair of the organization , Michelle Douglas, said she did not step aside as part of an orderly board recruitment process but because of “concerns she had over the way large numbers of employees were being let go, and her inability to see financial records that she has asked to see.
The brothers told the committee that Margaret Trudeau did not start receiving speakers’ fees for WE events until after her son had become Prime Minister. They also revealed that she had received in addition to the previously discovered $312,000 paid to her for speaking at WE Day, $167,944 in expenses. Appearing on CP 24, political analyst Jim Warren said the two brothers had only “muddied the waters” by their appearance, that they seemed ill prepared and even the TV setup by which they testified was dimly lit.
Typical of the tone of questioning by opposition members of the committee was this exchange by Conservative MP Charie Angus who wanted to know why WE had not registered as a lobbyist.