THE Conservative Party said on Tuesday that since the first WE event in 2007, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the WE co-founders Marc and Craig Kielburger have been only too happy to benefit from their friendship.
Trudeau’s government has given WE millions of dollars, Canadians’ taxpayer money, and acted as a prominent booster. And in exchange, WE gave Trudeau and the Liberal Party a platform to promote their policies and speak directly with hundreds of thousands of young people.
This was a mutually beneficial political alliance, the Conservatives say.
But now that it’s politically inconvenient, Trudeau claims he isn’t friends with the co-founders of the WE organization.
But let’s look at the facts, say the Conservatives.
Trudeau and his family have attended over 50 WE events.
WE has paid members of the Trudeau family more than half a million dollars.
According to WE Charity, Justin Trudeau has spoken at more than eight WE events.
Each time, Trudeau was given a platform to share his political message with a large group of young Canadians, who would one day hopefully vote for the Liberal Party of Canada, says the Conservatives.
Members of Trudeau’s family were paid to attend WE events where they met WE’s corporate partners, showing that the Kielburgers had access to the reins of power.
When Trudeau became Prime Minister the amount of taxpayer money received by WE increased ten-fold.
Before 2015, the WE organization had received three grants for a total of $500,000.
After 2015, WE and its various entities received 14 contracts and grants for a total of $5.7 million.
This includes $1.5 million to host a WE event on Parliament Hill on July 2, 2017, during the Canada 150 celebrations. Trudeau spoke at this event.
The Conservatives say that during the pandemic, Trudeau’s Liberals saw an opportunity to take advantage of a crisis and help bail out their political allies.
Trudeau approved a $912 million contract that would have given WE $43.5 million
Trudeau claimed that only WE could run this program, but that claim is simply not true, say the Conservatives.
WE has zero experience running this kind of program. According to Kate Bahen, the managing director of the charity watchdog Charity Intelligence Canada:
“I’m not sure how you would assess the charity’s track record or capability to do this if it had not previously done such work in the past.”
“To the best of my knowledge, having analyzed WE Charity, I have seen no program activity in this area.” (Source)
Both public servants and other charities have indicated that they could have run this program.
Chris Aylward, the National President of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, said that if the Public Service was running the program it would be delivering the grant right now:
“…if the government had either used existing programs or asked the public service to set up a new student work and payment plan, it would have avoided the conflict of interest issues that have come to light since the WE Charity announcement, and it would have been able to deliver both pay and work experience to students.”
(Source – Standing Committee of Finance, July 21, 2020)
Multiple charities including the YMCA, the Boys and Girls Club, 4H and Chantiers Jeunesse have confirmed that they were never asked by the Liberal government to run the program. Several charities have since indicated that they could have run the program.
The Conservatives say Trudeau isn’t the only one with deep connections to the WE co-founders. Bill Morneau, Trudeau’s trusted Finance Minister, also has his own connections to WE.
Morneau has two daughters who are involved with WE. One works directly for the WE Charity and the other has spoken at WE days about her book, which has been endorsed by the WE organization.
In 2017, Morneau and his family took two luxury WE vacations worth more than $41,000.
CBC reported that in December of 2018, WE staff were forced to attend a Liberal Party of Canada holiday event for Morneau. It turns out that this was actually an election campaign launch event for Morneau.
In 2013, Craig Kielburger donated the maximum to Trudeau’s leadership campaign. Marc has also donated to the Liberal Party of Canada. (source: Elections Canada)
In 2017 WE created a video to promote Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party
Recently the Finance Committee heard from a researcher that WE might share data with the Liberal Party of Canada to help with their election efforts