Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre throws a redacted document tabled at the House of Commons Finance Committee provided by the Government during a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre throws a redacted document tabled at the House of Commons Finance Committee provided by the Government during a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Tories say they want full truth of WE Charity scandal out before next election

Trudeau said he does not want an election this fall

Conservative MPs say they want all the facts to come out about Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s handling of the WE Charity student grant contract before deciding whether to trigger a federal election.

Michael Barrett, the Conservative ethics critic, accused Trudeau of proroguing Parliament this week to hide his involvement in the decision to award a multimillion-dollar contract to WE, an organization with which he has close family ties.

Trudeau said Tuesday he had asked to have Parliament prorogued until Sept. 23 so the Liberal government can return that day with a speech from the throne that will outline its plans for the COVID-19 pandemic recovery. He said the government needs a reset because the pandemic wasn’t ever part of its original plan laid out in a throne speech after last fall’s federal election.

The move also, however, ended the current work — at least temporarily — of several House of Commons committees investigating how the Liberal government decided to have the WE organization administer the Canada Student Service Grant.

“If this was about introducing a speech from the throne, the reset he was looking for, he could have prorogued on Sept. 22 and delivered that speech on the 23rd,” Barrett said Wednesday in Ottawa.

“This is about one thing and one thing only. It’s about hiding from the truth, avoiding accountability. And it’s his architecture of a coverup.”

The speech from the throne will involve a confidence test in the minority Liberal government, and if opposition parties all vote against it the government would fall, likely triggering an election. The prospect of a federal campaign in the midst of a pandemic is prompting MPs to think hard about what to do with that vote. The Conservatives are not committing to bringing the government down next month.

The results of the Conservative leadership race will be revealed on Sunday and Barrett said the winner will lead the party’s decision-making on the throne speech.

“Unlike the Liberals, we are not solely focused on the scandals that have the curtains burning in the Prime Minister’s Office,” he said. “There are a number of issues affecting Canadians. We’re in a global pandemic. We’re in recessionary times.”

Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre said he thinks Trudeau would love to have an election before opposition MPs can force the government to cough up all the details about what happened with the WE contract.

Trudeau said Tuesday he does not want an election this fall.

The contract in question would have paid the WE organization $43.5 million to administer the grant program, which was intended provide funds to students who volunteered this summer. The agreement stipulated the organization could not make money on the deal.

Both Trudeau and Bill Morneau, who resigned as finance minister earlier this week, are being investigated by the federal ethics watchdog over whether they violated the Conflict of Interest Act over the WE Charity deal.

Morneau’s daughter works for the organization and Trudeau and his family have participated in multiple WE events. Trudeau was not paid for his appearances or speeches but his mother and brother were. His wife, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, was paid for one appearance before Trudeau was prime minister.

Both Trudeau and Morneau have apologized for not recusing themselves from the decision to award the contract to WE.

Trudeau has maintained that it was the federal public service that recommended WE administer the program.

But the Conservatives say thousands of pages of documents released by the government Tuesday show civil servants were pressured to do so by their “political masters” and were aware of the relationships between Trudeau, Morneau and WE.

READ MORE: Docs suggest bureaucrats were nudged to look to WE Charity for student program

Morneau resigned as finance minister Monday, saying he didn’t plan to run in the next election and Trudeau needed a finance minister who could lead the party through the whole pandemic recovery.

Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet has threatened to bring down the government as soon as he can, but left the door open to supporting the throne speech if the Liberals include his demands for more support for Quebec seniors, health care and agricultural producers in supply-managed sectors.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said he is focused on making government work so Canadians can get the help they need to get through this pandemic and its economic recession, but he said it is up to the Liberals to show they want to help average Canadians and not just their own well-connected friends.

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Conservative Party of CanadaCoronavirusJustin Trudeau

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, said growing COVID-19 case numbers continue to be a concern in the province. (Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Alberta announces 1,077 new COVID-19 cases Thursday

There are currently 14,052 active cases in the province

Bids for Kids poster
Wolf Creek Youth Foundation online auction gets ‘overwhelming’ response

Santa’s Bids for Kids auction to benefit youth programs in Ponoka and Rimbey

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, said the 500 deaths from COVID-19 in the province are a tragic milestone. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Alberta hits ‘tragic milestone’ with more COVID-19 deaths

Province up to 500 COVID-19 deaths, adds 1,265 cases

File Photo
Sylvan Lake Town Council asks for a mask bylaw to be brought forward for consideration

The bylaw would require face coverings in all indoor Town-owned and operated facilities

The corporate headquarters of Pfizer Canada are seen in Montreal, Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. The chief medical adviser at Health Canada says Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine could be approved in Canada next month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Health Canada expects first COVID-19 vaccine to be approved next month

Canada has a purchase deal to buy at least 20 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine,

People wear face masks as they pose next to a Christmas display in Montreal, Sunday, November 22, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
How to tell family their Christmas gathering is too risky and you’re not going

Dr. Hurst says it’s best to frame the conversation from a place of care, stressing safety precautions.

A sign instructs people to wear masks in downtown Calgary on Friday, Oct. 30, 2020. Pub and restaurant owners are trying to figure out how to comply with a stricter COVID-19 measure in Alberta that dictates only six people from the same household can sit at one table. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Brewpub owner pleased Alberta not closing sit-down dining as COVID-19 cases soar

Alberta’s caseload of COVID-19 infections has been growing for weeks

This undated photo issued by the University of Oxford shows of vial of coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, in Oxford, England. (University of Oxford/John Cairns via AP)
Canada can make vaccines, just not the ones leading the COVID-19 race

Canada has spent more than $1 billion to pre-order seven different developing COVID-19 vaccines

(File photo)
Alberta woman charged after allegedly hitting boy with watermelon at B.C. campsite

Police say a disagreement among friends at an Adams Lake campsite turned ugly

A pedestrian wears masks while out walking in front of the Alberta Legislature as the COVID-19 numbers spike in Edmonton on Tuesday November 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Doctor says Alberta restrictions not enough to reduceCOVID-19 strain on hospitals

Mithani notes people are still allowed to gather indoors at large places of worship and in bars,

Most Read