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

The Burns Lake RCMP is investigating the incident. (Phil McLachlan photo)
Fatal collision between a pedestrian and train near Burns Lake

Police say the investigation is still ongoing

Stikine provincial election candidates (clockwise from top left): Nathan Cullen, NDP; Darcy Repen, Rural BC Party; Rod Taylor, Christian Heritage; and Gordon Sebastian, BC Liberals.
‘Where is Annita McPhee?’: Cullen under fire from opening salvo of all-candidates forum

Four Stikine candidates spar during online debate from Prestige Hudson Bay Lodge in Smithers

(Wet'suwet'en Access Point on Gidimt'en Territory Facebook screenshot)
Ceremony a right at proposed CGL pipeline drill site: BC Union of Indian Chiefs

Indigenous land defenders cannot be criminalized and targeted, argues UBCIC

(File graphic)
Man dies in Gitlaxt’aamiks (New Aiyansh) after being taken into police custody

IIO and BC Corners Service conducting independent investigations

Dan Stuart (Christian Heritage Party - BC photo)
Strong values underpin Christian Heritage Party candidate

He’s also suspicious of the COVID-19 pandemic

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry answers questions during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. sees record-breaking daily COVID infections with 499 new cases over weekend

Two people, both in the Lower Mainland, died due to the virus over the weekend

A passer-by walks past a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada ‘yet to see’ deaths due to recent COVID surge as cases hit 200,000

Much of the increase in case numbers can be attributed to Ontario and Quebec

Police confirm human remains were found in a recycling bin in Vancouver on Oct. 18, 2020. (Black Press Media file photo)
Human remains found in recycling bin floating near Vancouver beach

Police asking nearby residents to see if their recycling bin has gone missing

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson visits a North Vancouver daycare to announce his party’s election promises for child care, Oct. 9, 2020. (B.C. Liberal Party video)
B.C. parties pitch costly child care programs in pandemic

B.C. Liberals say they’ll deliver on NDP’s $10-a-day promise for lower-income families

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A B.C. man decided to create a website to help people find family doctors accepting patients. Because Victoria is considered high-demand, clinic openings can’t be posted publicly. (Unsplash)
Vancouver Island man starts website that connects B.C. residents with doctors

Nanaimo man started project to help people find family physicians accepting patients

Voting station at Tzeachten Hall in the riding of Chilliwack-Kent on the first day of advance voting in the provincial election on Oct. 15, 2020. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. VOTES 2020: 380,000 British Columbians head to polls in first 4 days of advance voting

Some of highest voter turnout so far has been seen on Vancouver Island and in Shuswap

Grant and Barbara Howse, in quarantine in Invermere. Mike Turner photo
Denied entry into U.S., Kootenay couple still forced to quarantine for 2 weeks

The rules around crossing the U.S. border led to a bizarre situation for an Invermere couple

Most Read