NDP MP Charlie Angus speaks with reporters as he arrives on Parliament Hill for question period in the House of Commons Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

NDP MP Charlie Angus speaks with reporters as he arrives on Parliament Hill for question period in the House of Commons Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

House of Commons ethics committee makes third try at launching WE-related probe

The federal ethics commissioner has already rejected a request from the Conservatives

The House of Commons ethics committee is making a third attempt at examining conflicts of interest in the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, after two tries to probe Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s relationship with WE Charity each failed by one vote.

Monday, the committee started debating a motion from NDP MP Charlie Angus to study possible conflicts of interest and lobbying violations in relation to pandemic spending — and specifically the deal with WE Charity to manage a student volunteering program worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

“We have been over a month debating how we’re going to get to work and we have actually gotten to work,” Angus said.

A first motion aiming to acquire WE Charity speaking contracts involving Trudeau and his wife Sophie Grégoire Trudeau failed last week when Bloc Québécois MP Julie Vignola joined Liberals in voting against it — by accident, the Bloc said then.

“We were victims of a communications problem,” Bloc MP Marie-Hélène Gaudreau said.

She proposed a second motion Monday, to study Trudeau’s and his wife Sophie Grégoire Trudeau’s speaking contracts since he was elected to Parliament in October 2008.

That failed on a 4-5 vote, with Angus abstaining. If he had voted with Conservatives on the committee in favour of the motion, the committee’s chair, Conservative David Sweet, would have broken the tie.

Then came the third motion, from Angus, to look at conflicts of interest more broadly.

Gaudreau proposed an amendment to add a look at the contracts for speeches by Trudeau and his wife, which Angus backed.

The committee would invite representatives of the Trudeau’s speaking agency to testify about all files related to speeches organized, since October 14, 2008 for Trudeau and his wife, and will demand copies of all the relevant paperwork.

“We had begun the WE Charity study and we never finished it,” Angus said. “If my colleagues are willing to work with me, we can get this motion passed and get down to business and get a report to Parliament.”

If passed, Angus’s motion will see the committee examine the involvement of Rob Silver (the spouse of Trudeau’s chief of staff, Katie Telford) in both the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy program and the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program.

The federal ethics commissioner has already rejected a request from the Conservatives that he probe Silver’s work for mortgage finance company MCAP on those files, saying there’s no factual basis for such an investigation.

The motion also suggests studying the government’s involvement with Baylis Medical Company Inc., chaired by former Liberal Member of Parliament Frank Baylis, regarding the awarding of procurement contracts for medical devices.

Angus also wants the committee to study Palantir Technologies Canada’s relationship with the government regarding a breach of Conflict of Interest Act by its president and former Canadian ambassador to the United States David MacNaughton.

Ethics commissioner Mario Dion has found that MacNaughton violated ethics rules in work on Palantir’s behalf, though no contracts for the firm resulted.

The committee meeting was adjourned to Tuesday to continue debating Angus’s motion.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

Maan Alhmidi, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

federal government

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Josie Osborne was sworn into the Legislature virtually on Nov. 24. (FACEBOOK PHOTO)
Mid Island-Pacific Rim MLA Josie Osborne named minister of municipal affairs

The position was previously held by Selina Robinson, who is the province’s new finance minister

The Royal Canadian Legion’s annual Poppy Campaign poppies. This year the fundraising effort was mixed for local legions which have suffered from financial strain due to COVID-19. (Lachlan Labere-Salmon Arm Observer)
Mixed year for local legions during annual poppy campaign

Some find success, some struggle amidst the pandemic

There are more apartments coming for downtown Cumberland, but council wants to look at how to make sure there are rental units available. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Cumberland council calls for rental zoning options

Provincial amendments have only allowed communities to consider rental zoning since 2018

Comox and the school district are looking at formalizing a piece of school property for a dog park. Black Press file photo
School District 71, Comox work on formal dog park agreement

The site on unused school district property is already being used by dog owners

Breanna Brosko, 18, initiated the Adopt-a-Grandparent program five years ago. Scott Stanfield photo
Program continues to brighten Christmas for Comox Valley seniors

The annual Adopt-a-Grandparent program will continue to brighten the Christmas season for… Continue reading

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Breanna Brosko, 18, initiated the Adopt-a-Grandparent program five years ago. Scott Stanfield photo
Program continues to brighten Christmas for Comox Valley seniors

The annual Adopt-a-Grandparent program will continue to brighten the Christmas season for… Continue reading

A sketch of the building under construction at 1700 Balmoral Ave. in Comox.
Comox building letting off too much hot air

Developer asking for permit to move three heat pumps in front of 1700 Balmoral Ave.

Police in Nanaimo are looking for a suspect who wore a black-and-white striped hoodie and rode a yellow mountain bike when he allegedly stole three children’s backpacks from a daycare facility. (Photo submitted)
VIDEO: Thief steals children’s backpacks from daycare in Nanaimo

Suspect rode a yellow mountain bike and made off with backpacks hanging on fence

Arthur Topham has been sentenced to one month of house arrest and three years of probation after breaching the terms of his probation. Topham was convicted of promoting hate against Jewish people in 2015. (Photo submitted)
Quesnel man convicted for anti-Semitic website sentenced to house arrest for probation breach

Arthur Topham was convicted of breaching probation following his 2017 sentence for promoting hatred

Langley School District's board office. (Langley Advance Times files)
‘Sick Out’ aims to pressure B.C. schools over masks, class sizes

Parents from Langley and Surrey are worried about COVID safety in classrooms

The Klahoose First Nation village on Cortes Island is under lockdown until further notice due to a positive COVID-19 test. Photo courtesy Kevin Peacey.
Cortes Island First Nation community locked down due to positive COVID-19 test

Klahoose First Nation has had one positive test, one other potential case

Most Read