Justin Trudeau to testify on WE Charity scandal

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is set to face a parliamentary committee Thursday and testify over his government’s decision to ask WE Charity to administer a $912-million student grant program.

Trudeau is scheduled to appear before the House of Commons Finance Committee at 3 p.m. ET July 30. Katie Telford, his chief of staff, is also set to testify, starting at 4:15 p.m., the committee said on Monday.

Read more: What is the WE Charity scandal and who are the Kielburger brothers?

Trudeau will first have the chance to provide opening remarks — sharing his thoughts on the issue — which will be followed by a series of questions from MPs who sit on the committee.

The last time a prime minister testified before a parliamentary committee was in 2006 when former Prime Minister Stephen Harper appeared to speak about Senate reform.

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Trudeau’s testimony comes after an investigation into possible conflict-of-interest violations relating to the WE contract. This is his third ethics investigation since he took office in 2015.

Several members of the prime minister’s family have been paid hundreds of thousands of dollars collectively for appearances at WE Charity events, most notably his mother Margaret.

2:24 Trudeau grilled over WE Charity controversy

Trudeau grilled over WE Charity controversy

Both the prime minister and his wife, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, have regularly participated in the charity. Gregoire also hosts a podcast on the organization’s website.

Trudeau has apologized for not recusing himself from both the discussion and decision to approve the contract despite his family’s ties, arguing that the deal was recommended by non-partisan public service staff.

The prime minister’s appearance will come two days after the co-founders of WE Charity, Craig and Marc Kielburger, also appeared before the committee.

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Finance Minister Bill Morneau appeared before the committee last week and was grilled over his interactions with the charity.

READ MORE: WE Charity agreed to run student grant program as ‘favour’ to Canada, Kielburgers say

In his testimony, Morneau said he had repaid more than C$40,000 in travel expenses for private trips he and his family took to Kenya and Ecuador to visit WE Charity-run projects in 2017. He also disclosed that his wife has made two $50,000 donations to the organization in recent years.

Both the Conservatives and the Bloc Quebecois have called on Trudeau and Morneau to resign as a result of the WE Charity controversy.

— With files from Reuters

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