Michelle Douglas said she resigned as the chair of WE Charity’s board of directors because the executive team began to lay off hundreds of employees in March without providing financial justification to the board for doing so.
“I resigned because I could not do my job,” Ms. Douglas said.
She later added: “It was our view that you could not fire hundreds of people without very strong, demonstrable evidence, and even then should explore mitigation measures to save jobs.”
Ms. Douglas was the first witness up at the finance committee hearing today into the awarding of the multimillion-dollar student-grant contract to WE. Craig and Marc Kielburger, the co-founders of WE, are up this afternoon. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his chief-of-staff, Katie Telford, are scheduled to testify on Thursday.
In other WE news:
- The House of Commons finance committee yesterday released the contribution agreement signed between WE Charity Foundation and the federal government. Among other things, the document revealed that WE had been paid $30-million in upfront fees and it was backdated to May 5, weeks before cabinet had even decided to award them the contract.
- Royal Bank of Canada is one more corporate sponsor that has dropped their association with the charity.
- If you need to catch up on everything that happened on the WE file before today, you can read our deep-dive timeline into the controversy.
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The government bill to extend the wage subsidy and provide one-time payments to those with disabilities got Royal Assent on Monday.
Two Liberal MPs are urging their government to call a full public inquiry into the mass shooting in Nova Scotia that goes beyond the review panel already announced.
Provinces and territories are facing calls to launch their own examinations of systemic racism in the health-care system, weeks after B.C. launched a probe headed by Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond.
And Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou was back in court Monday fighting for more document disclosure from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.
John Ibbitson (The Globe and Mail) on the questions Trudeau should be asked about WE when he is at committee on Thursday: “Why are so many politicians so close to WE? There may be no other charity so closely involved with so many politicians at so many levels. Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe is also answering questions about his close ties to WE, after his government awarded it a contract. There are calls for the Toronto District School Board to review its ties with WE. Mr. Trudeau, why are you and so many other politicians so close to this charity?”
Sabrina Zuniga (Toronto Sun) on issues with student participation in WE Day: “Consider also, that in many schools teachers are encouraged to find students to attend WE Day who may be quieter and marginalized. In other words, don’t just recruit from the Student Council. This sounds nice on paper, but in practice these students often are part of low-income families. With WE Day, they are taken away from classes for one day — or more — and told how they need to donate food or raise money. Yet, these kids need food themselves and may work after, or before, school to help make money for the family.”
Licia Corbella (National Post) on the problem with WE paying for the Morneau family trips: “Most international aid charities require that donors who want to see their work overseas pay the entire cost of their travel, plus the cost of the charity staff member travelling with them. As one acquaintance who works for a major, highly reputable international aid agency told me, donors pay ’100 per cent of their own travel costs. Period.‘”
André Picard (The Globe and Mail) on the lessons for government in handling the pandemic: “Six months, 16.5 million cases and 650,000 deaths into the devastating pandemic, the world has learned many lessons. One of the most important ones: when introducing public-health measures such as lockdowns, physical distancing and mask wearing, you have to hit hard and fast. Nobody wins at whack-a-mole by being slow and meandering, even if, when you whack furiously, some of the mallet blows cause collateral damage.”
David Hutchison (The Globe and Mail) on reopening schools during the pandemic: “Schools should plan to reopen for in-person learning in November. In September and October, most students should continue to learn online, although these two months should also be used to retrofit schools and field test the physical return to school for limited numbers of elementary and high school students. Where feasible, priority should be given to students from economically disadvantaged households with limited child-care options that prevent a parent’s return to work.”