Conservatives say they want Trudeau, Morneau to testify on WE Charity controversy

Click to play video: 'Trudeau added to witness list for Finance Committee hearing on WE Charity deal: Poilievre'
Trudeau added to witness list for Finance Committee hearing on WE Charity deal: Poilievre
WATCH ABOVE: Trudeau added to witness list for Finance Committee hearing on WE Charity deal: Poilievre – Jul 12, 2020

The Conservatives have called on both the prime minister and finance minister to testify before a parliamentary committee on the WE Charity decision.

The Sunday announcement, made by MP Pierre Poilievre, follows the party’s calls earlier this week for a criminal investigation into the awarding of a contract with WE Charity, an organization that has paid Prime Minister Justin Trudeau‘s family hundreds of thousands of dollars in speaking fees.

The deal with WE to administer a $900-million federal student grant program was called off earlier this month.

Trudeau has admitted that he did not recuse himself from both the discussion and decision to approve the contract despite his family’s ties, arguing that the deal was recommended by non-partisan public service.

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“He [Trudeau] needs to explain where exactly the idea came from — did the WE organization call him and suggest it, did it come through the staff in his office? Did it come out of his own head? Did members of his family, who have been paid by the organization suggest it to him?” said Poilievre.
Click to play video: 'Conservative’s Pierre Poilievre raises questions around Trudeau and WE Charity'
Conservative’s Pierre Poilievre raises questions around Trudeau and WE Charity

“We need to hear from him directly on these questions, because only he has the answers, only he knows how this came about and how it came to be.”

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News of Finance Minister Bill Morneau having not recused himself from the decision arose last week as well despite him having two family members involved with or employed by the group.

Poilievre wants both Trudeau and Morneau to appear before the Standing Committee on Finance, on which he serves as vice-chair.

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According to him, the two could either come voluntarily or be compelled to come should they refuse the invitation — the latter of which would require a vote among the finance committee members.

The committee is currently split between six Liberals and six opposition members, including a Liberal chair.

Click to play video: 'Conservatives push RCMP to investigate WE Charity controversy'
Conservatives push RCMP to investigate WE Charity controversy

According to House of Commons Procedure and Practice, a committee chair would not be able to vote on a decision unless there was a tie — effectively allowing the committee to invite both Trudeau and Morneau to testify should the Conservatives bring both the Bloc Québécois and NDP on board.

The rules also suggest, however, that standing committees cannot compel members of the House of Commons to appear, meaning that both Trudeau and Morneau are under no obligation to respond — even if the Conservatives get the votes required.

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In a statement to Global News, an NDP spokesperson said that the Canadian public wants answers and needs to know that “this won’t happen again.”

“New Democrats believe in getting to the bottom of this and the more answers we get (including from Trudeau and Morneau) the quicker we can get those answers for the Canadian public,” the spokesperson wrote on Sunday.

The part did not directly address whether they would support the Tories’ call.

Click to play video: 'Canadian MPs weigh in on Trudeau-WE Charity controversy'
Canadian MPs weigh in on Trudeau-WE Charity controversy

Neither the Prime Minister’s Office nor the Bloc Québécois immediately responded to a request for comment.

Federal Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion has announced a probe into whether Trudeau violated conflict of interest rules in relation to the now-scrapped contract, while advocacy group Democracy Watch also said it was filing a complaint with the RCMP.

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With files from Global News’ reporters Kerri Breen and Beatrice Britneff

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