Tories ask the police to investigate the prime minister over WE deal

July 10, 2020
Tories ask the police to investigate the prime minister over WE deal
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The opposition Conservatives are calling for a criminal investigation into Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his ties to the WE Charity after the federal government handed the organization a $900 million sole-sourced contract.

The call comes a day after CBC News reported that, despite initial claims, WE had financial dealings with some of Trudeau’s family members, most notably his mother Margaret and brother Alexandre.

WE and its affiliates paid out some $300,000 in speaking fees to the two through the Speakers’ Spotlight Bureau over the last four years.

CTV News also reported that the prime minister’s wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, received $1,500 for participating in a WE event in 2012, before Trudeau became leader of the Liberal Party. She currently hosts a podcast for the charity.

Federal Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion announced last Friday that he was investigating Trudeau over the choice of WE to run the grants program.

Conservative Finance Critic Pierre Poilievre is asking the police to probe Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his ties to the WE Charity. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

But Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre said a probe by the ethics commissioner alone is insufficient, given the new revelations about payments to Trudeau family members before Ottawa awarded WE the contract to administer the the Canada Student Service Grant (CSSG).

“It’s not just a conflict of interest. It’s much more serious than that. We have a prime minister that has used his powers to get a benefit out of an organization related to himself and his family,” he said in French.

Poilievre cited Section 121 of the Criminal Code as a potential avenue for the police.

That section, titled “frauds on the government,” says it’s an offence for someone to give an elected official or any member of their family “a loan, reward, advantage or benefit of any kind as consideration for cooperation, assistance, exercise of influence or an act or omission in connection with the transaction of business with or any matter of business relating to the government.”

“We’re asking the relevant authorities if this could apply,” Poilievre said.

The initial decision to outsource this work to a third party with ties to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s family was criticized by some in the charitable sector and by the opposition Conservatives.

WE decided to pull out of the contract last week, citing the “controversy” over the partnership. WE agreed to give up the $19.5 million it was to be paid to administer the program.

Trudeau had defended the partnership, saying WE was the only group with a nationwide network capable of operating a program of this sort for young people. Other charitable organizations have questioned that assertion.

Conservative ethics critic Michael Barrett said it’s “essential” that the police probe the government’s decision to hand such a valuable contract to a “Trudeau and Liberal-friendly firm.”

“Canadians deserve to have a prime minister and a cabinet and a Parliament that they have confidence in,” he said. “It is clear that confidence has been shaken yet again.”

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