Mr. Trudeau, WE have a problem

Arnold Viersen, MP
Peace River Westlock

Prime Minister Trudeau cannot hide from the latest scandal. Nor can he dismiss it with a simple ‘sorry’. He didn’t make a mistake – he made a choice to hand almost a billion dollars to a charity that has paid multiple members of his immediate family almost $300,000 for speaking events – when other speakers were not paid. An organization that also employs immediate family members of the Finance Minister’s family.

This is the kind of scandal that you would expect to happen in a corrupt country halfway across the globe. Not in a G7 country like Canada.

Consider that the Trudeaus have appeared in, participated in, and financially benefited from dozens of WE events since Justin Trudeau became Prime Minister. Each time, they were given a platform by the Kielburger brothers and WE Charity to promote their personal brand and the Liberal Party’s policies. Now we know they also got paid.

Meanwhile, WE Charity, the organization, has received multiple sole-sourced government contracts, the latest worth almost a billion dollars. That raises serious questions about the Trudeau government’s relationship with WE. Almost a billion dollars, no competition, no oversight and no accountability – sorry just isn’t going to cut it.

Conservatives have sent letters to the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner asking for an investigation into the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister’s involvement and both of these investigations are now underway.

We have also called for a criminal investigation and initiated a study into this scandal through the House of Commons Ethics Committee, which started this week. There is no shortage of questions that remain like:

• Why was WE the only organization considered?
• Did Ministers know about the financial relationships between the Trudeau family, the Morneau family and the WE organization?
• Do other Ministers or their family members have financial relationships with WE Charity?
• Why did the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister not recuse themselves from the cabinet decision?

The latest twist is the revelation today that the government contract was not with WE Charity as Trudeau announced, but rather with WE Charity Foundation. It’s a distinct charity that only received charity status last year and whose purpose was to “hold real estate”.

The fact is, WE Charity Foundation should never have gotten almost a billion dollars of taxpayer money. You don’t give money to inept organizations that have no track record.

On top of this, is the well documented, alarming conduct of WE Charity and the Kielburger brothers. Independent charity watchdog Charity Intelligence noted that as early as 2018 auditors discovered that “WE Charity was in breach of its bank covenants. That is a massive, massive red flag.”

Over 2018 and 2019, millions of dollars were also transferred from WE Charity to the Kielburger’s private for-profit company. Former WE Charity staff have also reported a workplace that fostered fear, racism and disillusionment and use of unethical measures in developing countries.

• Why were these red flags ignored when awarding almost a billion dollars to WE Charity Foundation?
• How many cabinet ministers knew of these issues yet chose to go forward with the contract?

The Trudeau Liberals cannot hide from this scandal. Every single Cabinet Minister must answer for their part in approving this massive contract. Every single Liberal Member of Parliament needs to look themselves in the mirror and decide if they are comfortable with Justin Trudeau being the leader of their party given his scandal-plagued track record.

Let’s not forget, this isn’t the first ethics scandal. Justin Trudeau has already been found guilty of accepting a paid vacation on a luxury island. He was found guilty for his involvement in the SNC-Lavalin Corruption Scandal. Now, he is under investigation for the third time in three years. That’s a Canadian hattrick of ethic scandals.

Conservatives will continue to hold the Prime Minister and his government accountable.

Canadians deserve answers.

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