OTTAWA (NEWS 1130) — The federal ethics commissioner is expanding his probe into the WE Charity controversy to include Finance Minister Bill Morneau.
Like Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Morneau has already apologized and admits he should have recused himself from voting on a major student-volunteering program since one of his daughters works for the charity.
“When it came to the administration of the Canada Student Service Grant, our government’s focus from day one was delivering help to students as swiftly and efficiently as possible,” he says in a tweet.
“I did not recuse myself from the discussions on this topic, given the fact that my daughter works for the organization in an unrelated branch, I now realize I should have in order to avoid any perception of conflict. I apologize for not doing so, and moving forward, I will recuse myself from any future discussion related to WE.”
My statement on the administration of the Canada Student Service Grant: pic.twitter.com/kPbjp8kiaU
— Bill Morneau (@Bill_Morneau) July 13, 2020
Trudeau is already being investigated by the commissioner for helping approve the contract to manage the $900-million Student Services Grant program, even though his mother, brother and wife were collectively paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for speaking at WE events.
The ethics commissioner, Mario Dion, responded to requests from opposition MPs, saying he believes there is enough information to warrant an investigation of Morneau, as well.
Ethics commissioner will investigate Finance Minister @Bill_Morneau‘s involvement in the approval of the Student Service Grant contract for the WE charity. Like the Prime Minister, Morneau has already apologized and said he should have recused himself due to family ties #cdnpoli
— Cormac Mac Sweeney (@cmaconthehill) July 16, 2020
The first of multiple parliamentary investigations of the federal government’s aborted deal with WE Charity is to begin Thursday afternoon.
The House of Commons finance committee is set to hear from Youth Minister Bardish Chagger and some senior public servants as it probes how WE got a sole-sourced contract to administer the program.
The Canada Student Service Grant is aimed at students who haven’t been able to find work this summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic, offering up to $5,000 toward education costs in exchange for 500 hours of volunteering.
The opposition has called for the RCMP to launch a criminal probe into the matter.
On Wednesday, WE Charity announced major changes to its organization and the cancellation of WE Day events amid controversy over the now-cancelled federal contract.