WE Charity controversy: Trudeau’s finance minister to be investigated

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The controversy over a contract to a charity with ties to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his family has become more complicated with the revelation it could have earned more than twice what was originally stated, and the country’s Ethics Commissioner launching an investigation into the Finance Minister in connection with this issue.

WE Charity which was given the contract to administer a nearly one billion dollar programme was originally stated to be in line for a payment of CA $ 19.5 million, but that amount could have touched CA $ 43.53 million if it achieved certain targets. This was revealed by Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth Bardish Chagger while being questioned by the House of Commons Finance Committee, one of two Parliamentary panels looking into the matter.

The country’s Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion had earlier announced that Trudeau’s links to the WE organisation will be investigated in this regard given that his mother, brother and wife have made appearances paid for by the WE organisation’s organs. Now, Dion has launched an investigation into Finance Minister Bill Morneau since one of his daughter’s was employed with WE and another volunteered with them. Trudeau has already apologised for not recusing himself when the Cabinet took a decision to give the contract to WE. The contract was cancelled after the furor over Trudeau’s connection to WE exploded.

However, Chagger, an Indo-Canadian Minister, said that she had not been directed by Trudeau’s office to arrive at the agreement with WE nor had she personally held discussions in this regard with either Trudeau or Morneau. She stated that a bureaucrat “made a clear recommendation that WE Charity was the organization that was able to deliver this program in the timeline that was needed.”

The Parliamentary committees examining the matter have also sought Trudeau’s appearance but the Canadian PM has yet to confirm he will do so, as he faces an ethics investigation for the third time, with the prior two having resulted in finding him in violation of Federal norms.

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