WE Charity co-founders expected to testify today
The Kielburger brothers are expected to appear before the House of Commons Ethics committee today after threatening not to appear without legal counsel. The committee is expected to press the brothers on allegations of conflict of interest; their organization, WE Charity, managed to secure a $500 million grant from the government while paying the Prime Minister and his family to speak at their events.
The prime minister’s mother and brother, Margaret and Alexandre Trudeau, were paid over $350,000 for a combined 36 speaking engagements between 2016 and 2020, iPolitics reports. Trudeau and his wife, Sophie Grégoire , have both spoken at WE Day events over the last 13 years; Mrs. Trudeau has hosted a WE podcast in the past and remains one of the organization’s ambassadors.
It’s necessary that the committee scrutinize such “concerning allegations,” Conservative Ethics critic Michael Barrett said. The NDP ethics critic, Charlie Angus, has equally called upon the RCMP and the Canada Revenue Agency to investigate WE’s operations.
In a letter to the committee chair Chris Warkentin that was posted to WE’s Twitter account, the Kielburgers’ legal counsel, William McDowell, said Angus' request amounts to a “substantial obstacle” to the Kielburgers’ appearance before committee, because information gleaned from members could be used by law-enforcement agencies.
In another letter the following day, McDowell said he must protect his clients’ rights. iPolitics reports that "the RCMP has so far refused to confirm whether it’s launched an investigation [and] a letter on WE’s website says the organization will continue “engagement” with the ethics commissioner about the CSSG."
The Alberta Institute, a think tank based in Calgary, has also criticized the WE Charity for being a deeply rooted political organization that has regularly received taxpayer money and used it to advocate for their political agendas.
“Charities are supposed to deliver vital services to people in need, not political speeches,” said Alberta Institute President Peter McCaffrey back in September.