The shadow of the conflict of interest is cast on Trudeau | International

Justin Trudeau with his wife and mother, at an event in Ottawa, last 2015.
Justin Trudeau with his wife and mother, at an event in Ottawa, last 2015.SEAN KILPATRICK / AFP

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau again stumbles upon scandals that interfere with his political reputation. Now he is in trouble for the assignment of a millionaire contract to an organization, WE Charity, with which he and his family have had ties for years. Mario Dion, Commissioner of Ethics of Canada, investigates Trudeau for a probable conflict of interest. It is the third time that this figure has inquired about the Canadian Prime Minister; in the previous two, it concluded that it had violated ethical standards.

Trudeau announced on June 25 that a youth scholarship program, an initiative designed to provide financial support in the wake of the covid-19 crisis, would be managed by WE Charity, an organization known for its involvement with youth and its relationships with celebrities; Justin Trudeau and his wife, Sophie Grégoire, are two of them. The couple has participated in events of this association for several years. The contract, awarded without tender, contemplated the payment of C $ 19.5 million (€ 12.7 million) to the organization to distribute $ 912 million (€ 593 million) in scholarships. The critics did not delay by the proximity of the Trudeau with WE Charity.

A day later, the agency said in a statement that neither Trudeau nor his family have ever received payments for participating in their activities. The Prime Minister stated that members of the public service had concluded that WE Charity was the only association in Canada with the capacity to implement the program. “I have collaborated with WE [Charity] in the past because I firmly believe in promoting opportunities for young people, “added Trudeau. However, voices against it, both in the press and in political circles, increased. One of the arguments was that the federal government has distributed billions of dollars in support for covid-19 without external aid; Also the limited experience of WE Charity in this type of tasks cast doubt among the most critical.

On July 3, the agency announced that, in common agreement with Ottawa, it was canceling the contract “to avoid that the controversy of the last days could have a negative effect on the program and its beneficiaries.” That same day, Dion opened the investigation to find out if Trudeau had conflicts of interest.

The Canadaland portal published last Thursday that Margaret Trudeau, the prime minister’s mother, received $ 250,000 for participating in 28 WE Charity events. Trudeau’s younger brother Alexandre pocketed $ 32,000 for eight appearances, according to that website. The activities took place between 2016 and 2020, a period when Justin Trudeau held and holds the post of Prime Minister. Likewise, it was revealed that Sophie Grégoire received $ 1,400 for an event in 2012. Trudeau’s office replied: “The Prime Minister’s relatives are involved with various organizations and support different personal causes of their own free will.” Later, the Prime Minister admitted that he knew that his mother and brother had given talks, but that he did not know how much money they had received from the agency.

The CBC chain released on Friday information that claimed that two daughters of Bill Morneau, Finance Minister, also have links with WE Charity. Morneau replied that these ties had no impact on the millionaire contract decision. And both Morneau and Trudeau have acknowledged that they did not point out a possible conflict of interest at the ministerial meeting where the issue was discussed. A meeting that he later regretted attending because of the relationship between his family and the organization. Yves-François Blanchet, leader of the Québec Bloc, said that Trudeau should leave office for the duration of the Dion investigation. For their part, conservatives ask that the RCMP carry out verifications, since they point out that the matter goes beyond a potential conflict of interest.

Photographs

A few days before the October 2019 elections, when Trudeau was re-elected (although the Liberals lost the parliamentary majority), the publication of some old photographs of the politician with his face made up in black gave him difficult moments. He repeatedly apologized. Although the image of the prime minister during his first term was affected mainly by two other scandals; in both the Commissioner of Ethics concluded that Trudeau had violated rules for conflict of interest.

In December 2017, Trudeau received a verbal reprimand for having spent vacations in 2016 – with his wife and children – on the private island of the Aga Khan, leader of the Ismaili Muslims. In August 2019, he was reprimanded for trying to pressure then-Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould to invalidate a judicial investigation against the SNC-Lavalin company. The Canadian Prime Minister returns to the eye of the hurricane.

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