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

VIDEO: Virtual Abbotsford International Airshow debuts online

2020 edition of the event moves to a virtual format in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic

Abbotsford golfers shoot aces on same hole in same group

Local golfers Blake Olson and Randy Morford shoot hole-in-ones at Ledgeview on same hole

Fraser Valley Bandits fall to Edmonton in CEBL final

Bandits lose 90-73 to Stingers in Sunday’s Summer Series final

Fraser Valley Bandits advance to CEBL Championship Game

Bandits post comeback 76-75 win over Hamilton Honey Badgers in Saturday’s semifinal

IHIT on scene of suspicious early-morning fire on rural Mission property

Entrance to Gunn Avenue property cordoned off while investigation takes place, updates coming

QUIZ: Do you know the truth?

In what has been described as a post-truth era, how much do you know about truth and lies?

University of Victoria, rowing coach sued over alleged ‘fat shaming’ and verbal abuse

Lawsuit says Barney Williams subjected coxswain Lily Copeland to offensive and belittling language

Canada to match donations to Lebanon relief

Canada is directing all of its aid for this crisis directly to humanitarian organizations, not the Lebanese government

NHL playoffs: Canucks to meet St. Louis Blues in Round 1

Vancouver takes on defending champs beginning Wednesday

1 year since a B.C. teen died in a skate park, his family still waiting for charges

Carson Crimeni’s final moments were broadcast on social media

Simon Cowell breaks his back falling from electric bike

Incident happened at his home in California

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

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

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

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

Most Read