The NDP is looking to bring a probe of the WE Charity affair back on track by attempting to narrow a request for Trudeau family speaking records to just those pertaining to the prime minister and his wife.
NDP ethics critic Charlie Angus said in an interview with Global News that he hopes the compromise can move the work forward after the Liberals “completely stonewalled” the House of Commons ethics committee.
In a marathon meeting last week, Liberal committee members stalled an attempt to request records from a speakers’ agency regarding all appearances for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, his wife Sophie, mother Margaret and brother Alexandre, going back to late 2008.
A motion seeking those documents already passed in July but Trudeau’s prorogation of Parliament in August halted the committee’s work — along with that of other committees looking at the WE Charity issue — so the Conservatives have re-introduced it.
Liberal members of the committee complained that the motion is too broad, a “fishing expedition” aimed at delving into the financial affairs of the prime minister’s relatives beyond their involvement with WE.
They also argued that it is wrong for MPs to investigate members of another MP’s family and that the matter should be left with the federal ethics commissioner, who is already investigating Trudeau and former finance minister Bill Morneau, who also had close family ties to WE.
At a press conference Monday morning, Angus intends to announce an amendment that would abandon the request for speaking records for Trudeau’s mother and brother — which he thinks would address the concerns about involving the prime minister’s family.
“If no payments were made (to the prime minister), the Liberals shouldn’t have anything to worry about,” Angus said.
Trudeau did not receive compensation for any WE events, according to the organization and the prime minister himself.
According to WE, Margaret Trudeau spoke at 28 events in the last four years and received about $250,000 after fees to the agency Speakers’ Spotlight were deducted. Alexandre Trudeau spoke at eight events between 2017 and 2018 and earned $32,000 after fees were deducted. Both also received reimbursement for expenses.
Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, who hosted a WE podcast, has been reimbursed more than $25,000 for expenses related to her unpaid work for the organization. She also received a fee of $1,400 in 2012 — three years before her husband became prime minister.
The Trudeau family’s longstanding ties to the charity attracted scrutiny after it was given a sole-sourced deal to administer a $912-million volunteer grant program intended to help students missing out on summer employment due to the coronavirus pandemic. The agreement was called off.
WE Charity’s founders, Craig and Marc Kielburger, have said that the deal would have had no financial benefit, though the organization was set to receive millions in fees to run the program.
The organization, which is focused on youth empowerment and international development, announced last month it would be winding down its operations in Canada.
—With files from The Canadian Press and Amanda Connolly. Global News