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

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

OTTAWA — 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.

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.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 22, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Politics

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

Just Posted

Local author Eleanor Bertin thrilled to mark latest novel release

Bertin joins other authors J.L. Cole and Crystal Stewart for a book signing at Stettler’s Sweet Home on Main on Oct. 3rd

Despite pandemic challenges, the Castor Golf Course has some reasons to celebrate their 2020 season

Projects in 2020 include renovations to the club house kitchen and repairs to the roof from last year’s hailstorm

MP Damien Kurek said the recent Throne Speech lacked direction, leadership and clarity

‘It was vague, it was expensive and it’s very intrusive into provincial jurisdiction.’

Central zone down to 16 active COVID-19 cases

Alberta Health Services’ central zone is down to 16

No safe mask option for bearded members, RCMP says, but force is exploring solutions

RCMP says respirator not mandatory in all front-line situations, but sometimes needed to reduce risk

Lightning strike: Tampa Bay blanks Dallas 2-0 to win Stanley Cup

Hedman wins Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP

Liberals seek to fast track new COVID-19 aid bill after CERB expires

Government secured NDP support for legislation by hiking amount of benefits by $100 to $500 per week

‘Worst of the worse cases:’ Alberta horse owners on alert for outbreak of fever

An outbreak of the Potomac horse fever has been declared in Alberta

The holiday everyone needs this year: Vote for your favourite in Fat Bear Week 2020

Voters will get to decide who gets to take home this year’s most coveted prize

Canadian ski resorts wrestle with pandemic-vs.-profit dilemma as COVID-19 persists

Few are actually restricting the total number of skiers they allow on the hill

End of CERB means uncertainty for some, new system for others

As of a week ago, the CERB had paid out $79.3 billion to 8.8 million people

No winning ticket for Friday night’s $50 million Lotto Max jackpot

Jackpot for the next draw will grow to approximately $55 million

Most Read