BY BOB ZIMMER
Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies MP
During the last Parliament, when I was chair of the ethics committee, opposition members had attempted to have the non-partisan ethics commissioner speak to his report on the SNC-Lavalin scandal. This attempt was blocked by Liberal members of the committee. Less than a year later, the scandals continue.
Since the Liberal government announced that it would be outsourcing a new $900-million Canada Student Service Grant program to WE charity, an organization with well-documented ties to the prime minister and his family, many justifiable questions and concerns have been raised.
Media have reported that three members of Justin Trudeau’s family have been paid almost $300,000 to appear at WE charity events – including while he was prime minister. It has also been reported that Finance Minister Bill Morneau did not recuse himself when cabinet considered awarding the WE charity contract, despite the fact that two of his immediate family members are involved with the charity including one who is a paid contract employee.
Following requests made by Conservatives, including myself, the ethics commissioner has now launched investigations into the prime minister and minister Morneau’s involvement in the awarding of this contract.
We have also sent a letter to the Auditor General asking her to include the Canada Student Service Grant program and the government’s outsourcing of it to WE charity in the final report to Parliament on the government’s pandemic spending, as well as a letter to the procurement ombudsman asking him to review this decision and five other sole-source contracts WE charity had previously received. We have also called on Parliament to investigate this scandal at the finance committee, the government operations and estimates committee and the ethics committee, and we have called for the RCMP to open a criminal investigation as well.
The finance committee recently began its investigation and during its first meeting we found out that WE charity stood to gain up to $43.53-million from this contract, not $19.5-million as previously disclosed by the Liberals.
While the Liberal government has backtracked and announced that WE charity will no longer be managing the program, they cannot hide from this scandal. Every single cabinet minister must answer for their part in approving this massive contract.
The prime minister has already been found guilty of accepting a paid vacation on a luxury island and for his involvement in the SNC-Lavalin corruption scandal. Now he is under investigation for the third time in three years.
We will continue to hold the prime minister and this Liberal government accountable. We will not rest until Canadians have answers.