Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rises during a sitting of the Special Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic in the House of Commons Wednesday July 22, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

PM Trudeau agrees to appear at House of Commons finance committee over WE deal

The federal ethics watchdog is already investigating Trudeau’s role

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has agreed to appear before the House of Commons finance committee probing the Liberal government’s decision to give WE Charity a contract to run a $900-million student-volunteer program.

Cameron Ahmad, a spokesman for Trudeau, says the date and time have yet to be arranged.

The federal ethics watchdog is already investigating Trudeau’s role in giving the organization a contract to run the Canada Student Service Grant, a deal that has since been aborted.

The news comes after Finance Minister Bill Morneau revealed Wednesday that he sent a cheque to the WE organization just today to repay some $41,000 related to travel expenses the group covered — prompting calls for his resignation.

READ MORE: Commons finance committee to begin probing WE Charity’s volunteering contract

After going over receipts ahead of his testimony to the finance committee, the finance minister says it was to his surprise that he couldn’t account for tens of thousands of dollars in expenses related to accommodation and other charges the organization covered.

Morneau says it was always his intention to personally cover those amounts, but WE never charged them to him and his family.

Morneau says the amounts were related to a trip he took to Ecuador in summer 2017 to see some of the humanitarian work WE was undertaking there.

After contacting the charity, Morneau says, he sent a cheque for $41,366 today to repay the full cost of the trips.

He says accepting the expenses, even unknowingly, is not appropriate and he has forwarded the information to the ethics commissioner.

The ethics watchdog is also investigating Morneau.

Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre says Canadians will find it hard to believe that Morneau couldn’t know about thousands of dollars of travel expenses the organization covered, particularly as a cabinet minister forbidden from accepting such a benefit.

“We know that this is illegal. We know that you ought to have recused yourself,” Poilievre said, referring to the decision on the student grant program, before adding: “Minister, you’ve lost the moral authority to hold your office.”

He then called on Morneau to resign.

Morneau said he should have recused himself from cabinet deliberations around the WE agreement, which would have paid it almost $43.5 million in fees. He said he did not know WE had not charged him for the travel expenses until very recently.

“I’m not making an excuse. It was my mistake,” Morneau said.

He added: “I will continue to work on behalf of Canadians.”

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

ethicsJustin Trudeau

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Mary Lowther column: Time to plan the winter garden

Weeds have gotten away on me, I’ve just finished laying out my soaker hoses

VIDEO: Internet famous Yukon-based bhangra dancer explores Vancouver Island

Gurdeep Pandher spreads joy through dance, forms cross-cultural connections amid pandemic

Sarah Simpson Column: Finding nature at home

It was time to call in reinforcements.

Shady Lady: legendary Catalina touches down on Cowichan Lake

Two flying boats test the waters west of Youbou

Under new ownership, Cowichan’s Isles prepare for 2020-21

The Isles have gone through some ups and downs in recent seasons

53 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths cap off week of high infection rates in B.C.

Roughly 1,500 people are self-isolating because they either have COVID-19 or have been exposed to it

Unofficial holidays: the weird and wonderful things people celebrate around the world

On any given day of the year, there are several strange, silly or serious holidays to observe

Missing teen visiting Courtenay found safe

She had last been seen going for a walk on Aug. 6

Moving on: Tanev scores 11 seconds into OT as Canucks oust Wild

Vancouver beats Minnesota 5-4 to move into first round of NHL playoffs

Fitness non-profit challenges citizens to invent a game to be physically active

The campaign was launched after a study showed only 4.8 per cent of children and youths in Canada met required standards of the 24-hour movement guidelines

Gene editing debate takes root with organic broccoli, new UBC research shows

Broccoli is one of the best-known vegetables with origins in this scientific haze

VIDEO: U.S. Air Force pilot does fly-by for B.C. son amid COVID border separation

Sky-high father-son visit plays out over White Rock Pier

3 Vancouver police officers test positive for COVID after responding to large party

Union president says other officers are self-isolating due to possible exposure

New mothers with COVID-19 should still breastfeed: Canada’s top doctor

Dr. Theresa Tam made the recommendation during World Breastfeeding Awareness Week

Most Read