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Ethics commissioner launches investigation into PM over WE Charity contract

Last Updated Jul 3, 2020 at 4:23 pm PDT

FILE - Justin Trudeau and his wife Sophie Grégoire Trudeau speak at a WE Day event. (CityNews)
Summary

The federal ethics commissioner announced Friday it is investigating the prime minister over WE Charity contract

WE organization won’t manage the federal government program for students, new graduates

The grant is now expected to be distributed by the federal government

OTTAWA (NEWS 1130) — The federal ethics commissioner announced Friday an investigation into Prime Minister Justin Trudeau over his government’s now-cancelled decision to have WE Charity manage a $900-million program for summer students.

The Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner confirmed the investigation, in a tweet, into possible contraventions.

Examinations are conducted in confidence and a report will be released when completed, says the commissioner.

Youth Minister Bardish Chagger announced earlier in the day that the WE organization won’t manage the federal government program to pay students and fresh graduates for volunteer work this summer.

Chagger said it was a “mutually agreed-upon decision.”

The grant is now expected to be distributed by the government, unless another body can be found to take on that responsibility.

Trudeau said last week the non-partisan civil service, not him, decided the WE charity was the best option to dole out grants to students who volunteer in this summer.

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Since the charity, founded by brothers Craig and Marc Kielburger, was announced as the manager of the program last week, the sole-sourced deal has been criticized because of Trudeau’s close relationship with the group.

The volunteer program is to pay up to $5,000 for schooling costs for participants who volunteer the maximum 500 hours, and is aimed at students who can’t find work this summer because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The program is part of a $9-billion investment by the federal government to cushion the economic impact of the pandemic on young people that also includes money for thousands more summer-job placements and internships.

Chagger’s statement said volunteers who have already signed up shouldn’t be adversely affected, and WE Charity will pay back money it’s already received from the federal government.