The Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, denied on Thursday that the charity, which had been selected by the government to run the main student grant program, had received concessional assistance even though it was linked to his family.
An escalating scandal over a multimillion-dollar program provided by WE WE Charity Canada hurt Trudeau in polling stations when his Liberal Party rose four points from opposition Conservatives, an Abacus Data poll showed on Thursday.
The popularity of the Liberal-led government grew during Canada’s response to the COVID-19 crisis.
“We had no charitable help from me or anyone else,”; Trudeau said in his opening remarks. “The civil service recommended WE Charity. I did absolutely nothing to influence this recommendation.”
“How much?”, “Just a dollar figure.”: MP Pierre Polievre repeatedly asks Prime Minister Trudeau how much money his family paid to us.
The live broadcast continues here: https://t.co/9A0P8TVYlx pic.twitter.com/bJuaSGhC3g
– CTV News (@CTVNews) July 30, 2020
This corresponds to the testimony of the civil service to the same committee. Amid a frenzied effort to promote programs to help Canadians during a pandemic, government officials recommended WE Charity as the only organization capable of delivering the $ 500 million ($ 372 million) program quickly.
Earlier, the government said the program would provide students with up to 900 million Canadian dollars (670 million dollars).
The Prime Minister has already publicly apologized for participating in the Cabinet’s decision to take away WE Charity to administer the grant program, as this has created a perception of conflict of interest. The charity refused shortly after the program was announced.
The testimony of the Prime Minister of Canada before the parliamentary committee is very unusual. The last time this happened was in 2006, when then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper appeared when he spoke about Senate reform.
“We could do better,” Trudeau Chief of Staff Katie Telford told the same committee after a speech by the prime minister. According to her, another layer of careful control could be added to dispel any perception of conflict of interest.
Partnership and exec files have been removed from headquarters. Don’t know where they were sent? I wonder if there will be any information in these boxes today when @JustinTrudeau is on the stand? @craigkielburger can you tell us what it was about? pic.twitter.com/3N9ZRUqg9L
– Joe Warmington (@joe_warmington) July 30, 2020
Trudeau’s testimony comes after he was investigated for possible violations of conflict of interest. This is the third ethics study he has encountered in three years.
The Canadian Ethics Commissioner launched an investigation after WE Charity revealed that it had paid Trudeau’s mother and brother for their speeches.
Both the Prime Minister and his wife, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, regularly participated in WE charity events.
Reuters news agency