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.
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.
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