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Justin Trudeau will join a rare club this afternoon as one of the few sitting prime ministers to testify at a parliamentary committee.

Mr. Trudeau is appearing at the finance committee this afternoon as part of hearings into the controversial awarding of a multimillion-dollar contract to the WE Charity Foundation.

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He is currently scheduled to appear for an hour, followed by an hour of testimony from his chief of staff, Katie Telford. However, opposition MPs voted last night to request that Mr. Trudeau and Ms. Telford testify for up to five hours, so it remains to be seen whether it will be another late night.

The committee hearings started due to concerns of a conflict-of-interest between the Liberal government and the charity, considering the family ties that Mr. Trudeau and Finance Minister Bill Morneau have to the web of WE organizations. (The conflict-of-interest commissioner announced last night he would expand a probe into Mr. Morneau after the minister revealed the charity had given his family complimentary travel, which has since been reimbursed.)

However, other concerns have been raised in recent weeks about how the WE organizations are set up and what they spend their money on.

  • The U.S. arm of WE Charity spent more than US$600,000 on political consultants in Washington just last year, including a contract with a Republican firm. Around that time, Republican operatives published a series of op/eds that criticized reporting from Canadaland that was critical of the WE organization.
  • Someone paid internet users to promote positive WE stories in a bid to manipulate Google search results that could downgrade the appearance of negative stories. WE Charity denies they know the origin of the payments.
  • WE employees told CBC that they were encouraged to go to an event hosted by Mr. Morneau in his riding. WE Charity said the employees’ stories were a “mischaracterization” of events.

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Chris Hannay. It is available exclusively to our digital subscribers. If you’re reading this on the web, subscribers can sign up for the Politics newsletter and more than 20 others on our newsletter signup page. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.


The Auditor-General is planning to probe Canada’s early-warning system for pandemics after a Globe and Mail investigation revealed that a key part of the government unit had essentially been shut down last year – just months before the novel coronavirus emerged.

John McCallum, former immigration minister and ambassador to China, told private business clients in China that he expects relations between that country and China to improve in the near future.

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Meanwhile, the Canadian government is being urged to investigate the use of forced-labour camps in China’s Xinjiang region, where ethnic minorities are imprisoned and a number of Canadian companies manufacture their goods.

The leaders of Apple, Amazon, Google and Facebook faced an unprecedented grilling at the U.S. House’s antitrust hearings. The focus of the hearings is whether these digital giants have become so large and their products so pervasive that they are threatening democracy.

Herman Cain, the U.S. businessman who made a memorable run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012, has died of COVID-19 at the age of 74.

New Pentagon training material encourages U.S. Department of Defense to think of journalists and protesters as “adversaries” in a fictional scenario about protecting sensitive information.

The U.S. Gross Domestic Product dropped at an annualized rate of 32 per cent in the second quarter.

And U.S. President Donald Trump is for the first time floating the idea that the Nov. 3 election should be delayed because, he claims, there is fraud in mail-in ballots. Any changes to the voting date would require the co-operation of the Democratic-led House of Representatives, which seems unlikely.

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John Ibbitson (The Globe and Mail) on what recent controversies say about Trudeau and the Liberal brand: “There’s a maxim that a politician’s greatest weakness is the flip side of their greatest strength. Decisiveness in the pandemic became Arrogant by Default when the government mostly ignored the rights of Parliament.”

Andrew MacDougall (Ottawa Citizen) on why partisans should call out members of their own parties more often: “Imagine if more Liberals had trimmed Justin Trudeau’s sails – even behind closed doors – during SNC? Do you think doing so would have made it more, or less likely for Trudeau to step in the ethical dung again over WE? I suppose we’ll never know.”

Mary Robinson (The Globe and Mail) on Canada’s greenhouse-gas goals: “The Canadian government appears to have no plan to end or limit its support for fossil fuel companies. It has pledged only to phase out financial aid that meets its narrow definition of an “inefficient” fossil fuel subsidy. In the decade since Canada and its Group of Seven partners made that commitment, much has changed. We now know that limiting warming to 1.5 C requires not only leaving most fossil fuel reserves in the ground, but also retiring the world’s existing coal, oil and gas infrastructure on an accelerated timeline. And yet, Canada’s leaders continue to move in the opposite direction.”

David Parkinson (The Globe and Mail) on measuring economic recovery: “But there’s a decidedly old-school measure of economic activity that is flashing a caution signal that the high-tech data sources are missing. It comes from the railways, which can still tell us a thing or two that Google’s mobility tracker and online restaurant reservations can’t. Those rail numbers indicate that while consumers may be bouncing back quickly, producers are not – especially many of the most export-dependent producers.”

Tomas Jirousek (Montreal Gazette) on what to do about the Indian Act: “While we recognize the pressing need for reform, the solution isn’t as easy as simply abolishing the Indian Act itself. Instead, Canada needs to focus on promoting Indigenous self-determination while finally addressing the chronic underfunding of social services on reserves.”

Konrad Yakabuski (The Globe and Mail) on U.S. democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s choice for vice-president: “Mr. Biden had already vowed to choose a female running mate. And last week, he said four Black women have made his short list. It is unlikely that Mr. Biden would have been that specific unless he intended to pick one of those four. To hold out the possibility of making history by naming a Black woman to share the ticket, only to not go through with it, would raise even more questions about Mr. Biden’s presence of mind than he already faces from Republicans and Fox News.”

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