7 key moments from Trudeau and Telford’s WE testimony

7 key moments from Trudeau and Telford's WE testimony

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his chief of staff, Katie Telford, faced a grilling from MPs today probing the federal government’s decision to task WE Charity with running a $900 million student grant program.

It was a rare appearance by a prime minister before a parliamentary committee and it came in the midst of a damaging controversy for the Liberal government.

Trudeau was scheduled to appear for one hour but ended up testifying for 90 minutes in a session that included some heated moments — and some levity, when a power outage knocked committee chair Wayne Easter out of the proceedings.

Here are the key exchanges.

Trudeau says he learned of WE decision on May 8

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau disclosed for the first time that he pulled the proposal to partner with WE Charity for the student grant program from the cabinet agenda on May 8 because he wanted to do more work to ensure it was done the right way. 2:54

Trudeau said for the first time that he pulled the proposal to partner with WE Charity for the student grant program from the cabinet agenda on May 8 because he wanted to do more work to ensure the program was being rolled out the right way.

Conservative MP: Cabinet must be accountable

Conservative MP Michael Barrett tells Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that the responsibility for the decision to award the student grant program to WE Charity lies with cabinet, and someone must be held accountable. 3:02

Conservative MP Michael Barrett told Trudeau that the responsibility for the decision to award the student grant program to WE Charity lies with cabinet and someone must be held accountable.

When the power goes out, grab the chair

Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre pushes the prime minister on how much money has been paid by WE Charity to Margaret Trudeau, then assumes chairing the committee when Liberal MP Wayne Easter’s power goes out — and presses the PM again. 3:26

Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre pushed the prime minister to say how much money has been paid by WE Charity to Margaret Trudeau, then took on chairing the committee when Easter’s power went out — and pressed the PM again.

NDP’s Angus: PM’s judgment ‘hurt students’

NDP MP Charlie Angus calls the WE Charity controversy an ‘unnecessary scandal’ over a program that has fallen apart because of Justin Trudeau’s poor judgment. The controversy has ‘derailed so much good work and hurt students,’ the Ontario MP said. 2:31

NDP MP Charlie Angus called the WE Charity controversy an “unnecessary scandal” and said that the grant program has fallen apart because of Trudeau’s poor judgment. The controversy has “derailed so much good work and hurt students,” the Ontario MP said.

Cooper presses chief of staff over PM’s pushback claim

Conservative MP Michael Cooper grills Justin Trudeau’s chief of staff, Katie Telford, on the prime minister’s insistence that he ‘pushed back’ on the proposal to task WE Charity with administering a $900-million student grant program. 0:30

Conservative MP Michael Cooper grilled Justin Trudeau’s chief of staff, Katie Telford, on the prime minister’s claim that he “pushed back” on the proposal to task WE Charity with administering the student grant program.

Telford, Poilievre spar on timeline

Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre presses the prime minister’s chief of staff Katie Telford about the timing of a May 5 call between WE and the Prime Minister’s Office — two weeks before the plan went to cabinet, and also the date that WE was later told it could start counting expenses for administering the student grant program. 6:12

Poilievre questioned Telford about the timing of a May 5 call between WE and the Prime Minister’s Office, two weeks before the plan went to cabinet — and also the same day that WE was told it could start counting expenses for administering the student grant program. WE co-founder Marc Kielburger testified earlier this week that WE at this point was moving ahead with the project.

Why didn’t PM know until May 8?

Green MP Elizabeth May asks the prime minister’s chief of staff Katie Telford why no one told Justin Trudeau about the proposal to involve a third-party service provider for the student grant program until it was about to be presented at the cabinet table. 2:31

Green MP Elizabeth May asked Telford why no one told Trudeau about the proposal to involve a third-party service provider in the student grant program until it was about to be presented at the cabinet table.

Watch the prime minister’s full testimony: 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appeared before MPs on the Commons finance committee July 30 to discuss WE Charity’s involvement in the student volunteer grant program. 1:29:23

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