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Craig and Marc Kielburger address the audience during the We Day event in Toronto on Sept. 20, 2018.Christopher Katsarov/The Canadian Press

A long-time donor to WE Charity is asking Canadian and U.S. authorities to investigate whether the charity misled donors by failing to build promised schools in Kenya.

U.S. television journalist Reed Cowan, who says he has directly and indirectly raised millions of dollars for WE Charity’s schools in Kenya, is calling for investigations by the RCMP and the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.

Mr. Cowan, a former member of an advisory board for WE Charity’s affiliate in Kenya, issued the call this weekend after the charity apologized for removing his foundation’s sponsorship plaque at a Kenyan school. The charity denied that it was “double-funding” its projects by allowing donors to believe they were paying for schools that others had already sponsored.

Mr. Cowan’s request for official investigations has won support from New Democrat MP Charlie Angus, a member of a House of Commons committee where Mr. Cowan testified last week. He testified that the charity has been “duplicitous” with donors and had failed to provide an accounting of its use of donations.

Mr. Angus said Mr. Cowan’s allegations are “explosive” and must be reviewed by the RCMP and by Canadian revenue authorities.

“WE Charity is not just another charity in Canada,” he said in a letter to National Revenue Minister Diane Lebouthillier on Sunday. “It has partnered with governments and school boards across the country. ... These claims must be investigated in order to reassure young people that their fundraising efforts are treated with the greatest trust.”

WE Charity, in a statement issued Sunday by its public-relations office, said it is confident that it conducted itself appropriately at all times and that any investigation would reach the same conclusion.

Mr. Cowan is the first independent donor to testify to the House of Commons ethics committee since the controversy last year over a federal contract awarded to WE Charity to run a $912-million student volunteer program. The contract was later cancelled.

Mr. Cowan said he had spent years raising funds for WE Charity schools in honour of his four-year-old son, Wesley, who died in an accident in 2006, and he felt misled by what he later learned about the charity’s activities in Kenya.

In response to his testimony, WE Charity said a total of four schoolhouses in Kenya were built with money that Mr. Cowan had raised in his son’s memory. It said it is seeking internal records to satisfy his request for a detailed accounting.

But in a video he released this weekend, the U.S. journalist said that the charity’s founders, the brothers Craig and Marc Kielburger, had promised students and donors that a school would be built in Kenya for every US$10,000 to US$12,000 that was raised. His own direct fundraising in Utah and Florida should have paid for 24 schools, rather than four schools, he said.

On Sunday, the charity said four schoolhouses were directly funded by Mr. Cowan’s organization, but additional schools were built with funds from students and organizations in Florida and Utah that he had inspired to fundraise. Hundreds of children have benefited from those contributions, it said.

Last October, a coalition of more than 90 Canadian charities and foreign-aid agencies said it was concerned about WE Charity’s lack of transparency and its unwillingness to sign the coalition’s code of ethics.

The charity’s internal operations “remain unknown to most,” according to the October statement by Cooperation Canada, formerly known as the Canadian Council for International Cooperation, which represents almost all of Canada’s major aid organizations.

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