PM Says He Did Not Influence WE Decisions
CBJ — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was grilled by members of the Federal Finance Committee via Zoom conference on Thursday about his and his family’s involvement in the WE Charity scandal and he flatly denied any wrongdoing in terms of attempting to influence the decision-making within the organization.
Despite repeated attempts by Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre he could not get Trudeau to provide a figure in terms of how much money members of his family had been compensated for their involvement with the organization. Poilievre was exasperated by Trudeau’s avoidance of a direct answer. He scolded the PM in telling Trudeau that knew he’d be appearing before the committee for at least a month, which was more than enough time to find out the dollar amounts in terms of specific compensation. Poilievre believed Trudeau’s preference was to appear oblivious to the facts rather than having to share them.
Both Prime Minister Trudeau and Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau now admit they should have recused themselves from any involvement due to perception of favouritism in the selection process for a number of decisions that were made within the organization. Members of Trudeau’s family and Morneau’s daughter were both compensated for their participation at various WE events.
Trudeau says WE received no preferential treatment by him or members of his government regarding the now-likely cancelled $912 million student volunteer grant program after he learned the organization was involved.
“WE Charity received no preferential treatment, not from me, not from anyone else. The public service recommended WE Charity, and I did absolutely nothing to influence that recommendation… When I learned that WE Charity was recommended, I pushed back,” Trudeau said.
The prime minister testified that he and his chief of staff Katie Telford first became aware that WE Charity was formally being put forward as the best choice on May 8, just hours before cabinet was to decide on who would administer the program.
“Who are you going to fire?” asked Conservative MP and ethics critic Michael Barrett. Trudeau did not provide an answer, saying that no two situations are ever the same and different factors would play into such a decision.