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

FILE – A COVID-19 vaccine being prepared. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
B.C. seniors 80 years and older to get COVID vaccine details over next 2 weeks: Henry

Province is expanding vaccine workforce as officials ramp up age-based rollout

The avalanche came down on the highway sometime Sunday evening (Feb. 21) (Dawson photo)
Road to Bella Coola wharf reopens after large avalanche

The road was closed after a large avalanche covered a significant portion of the highway

Jenni Mueller lives near the wharf on the other side of the avalanche. She took this photo and thinks the avalanche happened around 8 p.m. last night (February 21). (Jenni Mueller photo)
Avalanche closes road to wharf at Bella Coola

A day and night of heavy rain resulted in avalanches across the region

Fisheries and Oceans Canada released it's 2021 Pacific Herring Integrated Fisheries Management Plan Feb. 19. (File photo)
Northern herring opportunities kept to a minimum

2021 management plan caps Prince Rupert fishery at 5 per cent

Williams Lake First Nation government staff are anticipated to return to work Monday, Jan. 25. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
Court orders new hearing over Williams Lake First Nation’s century-old land dispute

A three-judge panel unanimously set aside a 2018 finding by the Specific Claims Tribunal

Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.'s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
456 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., 2 deaths

Since January 2020, 78,278 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in B.C.

“Support your city” reads a piece of graffiti outside the Ministry of Finance office. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
Slew of anti-bylaw graffiti ‘unacceptable’ says Victoria mayor, police

Downtown businesses, bylaw office and Ministry of Finance vandalized Wednesday morning

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Vaccinating essential workers before seniors in B.C. could save lives: experts

A new study says the switch could also save up to $230 million in provincial health-care costs

The late Michael Gregory, 57, is accused of sexually exploiting six junior high students between 1999 and 2005. (Pixabay)
Former Alberta teacher accused of sexually assaulting students found dead in B.C.

Mounties say Michael Gregory’s death has been deemed ‘non-suspicious’

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

According to a new poll, a majority of Canadians want to see illicit drugs decriminalized. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Majority of Canadians think it’s high time to decriminalize illicit drugs: poll

More than two-times the B.C. residents know someone who died from an overdose compared to rest of Canada

Photograph By @KAYLAXANDERSON
VIDEO: Lynx grabs lunch in Kamloops

A lynx surprises a group of ducks and picks one off for lunch

(Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. residents can reserve provincial camp sites starting March 8

B.C. residents get priority access to camping reservations in province

Most Read