In April 2020 the federal Cabinet approved a sole-source contract with a charity called “WE” to distribute close to $1 billion to pay students for “volunteer” activities. On July 3 the contract was cancelled. If the contract was justified it should not have been cancelled. If the contract was not justified it should not have been awarded. Either the decision to award the contract or the decision to cancel it had to be wrong – unless you are in politics.
Both Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Finance Minister Bill Morneau have had close family ties to this charity, but did not recuse themselves from the Cabinet meeting deciding on the contract. This raised serious ethical issues, now being investigated by the Parliamentary Ethics Commissioner. Virtually all the media have been highly critical of the conduct of both of them. Some have also criticized the public service, which the PM said had recommended both the program itself and awarding the sole-source contract to manage it to WE.
As Globe and Mail columnist Andrew Coyne wrote, with more than a touch of sarcasm:
“At this point, all we have is a rat’s nest of mutually beneficial relationships between the Liberals, the Trudeau family and WE, an organization which, in its cultish internal management and happy-face external messaging, resembles nothing so much as the Liberal Party. Senior Liberals raise funds for WE. WE hires their kids, and promotes the party leader. The leader, once in power, directs public money back to WE.
Keep it up, however, and one day this all might turn into something of a scandal.”
Is this scandal the public service’s fault, or that of the two politicians, or all of them? Read on.Continue reading “Canada’s WE Scandal: Whose Fault Is It?”