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Federal finance minister being investigated by ethics commissioner over WE Charity contract

Last Updated Jul 16, 2020 at 5:52 pm EDT

FILE - Finance Minister Bill Morneau rises during a meeting of the Special Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on Wednesday, June 17, 2020. Mid-sized Canadian businesses that are strapped for cash because of COVID-19 can now apply through their own banks to get loans of up to $60 million from the federal government. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Summary

Finance Minister Bill Morneau is latest politician to be investigated by federal ethics commissioner into WE Charity


Morneau has apologized and admitted he should have recused himself from discussions over student-volunteering program


Justin Trudeau is already under investigation for helping approve the contract


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.”

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.

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.

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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.