Saskatchewan’s premier is being asked by the official Opposition to proactively release his correspondence with the conflict of interest commissioner regarding a trip with the WE Charity’s founder, Craig Kielburger.
The Saskatchewan NDP said it’s raising concerns about the timeline that preceded a $260,000 partnership between the organization and the Ministry of Education.
Premier Scott Moe said that his family has been involved in supporting the WE foundation for a number of years.
“Most recently, we had — my wife and I — had attended in Kenya this past year. That was a personal trip and … we paid for that trip personally and it … we did not get paid in any way for our participation in that trip. That was a personal trip for us,” Moe said on Tuesday.
“I was aware that WE does do business with a number of governments. I wasn’t aware whether or not they did with the Saskatchewan government. So I approached, prior to going on that trip… our conflict of interest commissioner and inquired with him and he had said there was no conflict in this particular case.”
NDP education critic Carla Beck said Moe met with Kielburger this past winter and the premier indicated on Tuesday that a contract with the organization was already under consideration at that time.
“I would have been aware of it maybe late last summer, early last fall, of the WE well-being program in itself. I have discussed it at least once with the minister… but I have not been involved in any of the procurement,” Moe said on Tuesday.
“When a charity comes forward with a contract of this nature, what the government does then is it has a system where it will offer that contract out to see if there’s other charities that are involved… the WE foundation was the only charity that has been interested in this so it continues to find its way through the government-due-diligence process.
“There’s been no cabinet decision on this or no cabinet presentation on this.
“This is an area of interest to us, not because WE is offering it, but the area of the opportunity to potentially add to the tools in our tool chest, if you will, in providing services and supports for those that may be struggling with mental health or have mental health challenges, in particular in our K-12 (school) system.”
Beck said on Wednesday she hadn’t sent a form letter for the premier to release his correspondence with the commissioner.
“Did the premier inform the commissioner that he and the education minister had discussed a programming partnership with the charity that Moe was travelling with?” Beck said in a press release on Wednesday.
“The premier should do the right thing and proactively disclose his communications around this potential conflict of interest.”
A response from the premier’s office had not been received at the time of this article’s publication.
The federal Liberals are currently under scrutiny for approving a contract with WE Charity after members of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s family accepted payment for speaking engagements.