In a rare move, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his chief of staff Katie Telford will appear before the House of Commons finance committee today to explain their roles in the now cancelled decision to strike a partnership with We Charity to administer a multi-million dollar student volunteer program. Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre says he wants the prime minister to be honest and forthcoming about the initial decision to give the organization the sole-sourced contract. Trudeau and Finance Minister Bill Morneau both have familial ties to the group and are being investigated by the ethics commissioner.
The committee is scheduled to hear from Trudeau from 3pm to 4pm and from Telford from 4:15pm to 5:15pm.
Meanwhile, WE Charity says covering trip expenses for sponsors and potential donors has resulted in millions in donations from those who have seen the organization’s work on the ground. But some experts in the charity field say that is not common practice, with donors taking part in overseas trips expected to pay their own way. Last week, Finance Minister Bill Morneau told the House of Commons finance committee he had repaid more than $41,000 dollars in travel expenses covered by WE Charity for trips he and his family took in 2017 to see and take part in some of the organization’s humanitarian work.
Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister says the province usually gives about $150,000 dollars per year to WE projects in schools. But he says it is reviewing that funding in light of ethical questions being raised about whether money given to WE’s charity arm ends up in its for-profit division. WE paid members of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s family a total of about $300,000 dollars, but Pallister says he was not paid for speaking at a WE Day event in 2018.
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