Canada’s opposition prompts Trudeau to testify over charity

Trudeau himself admits to taking part in negotiations with the charity over a government contract. (AP pic)

MONTREAL: Canada’s Conservative opposition party said Sunday it would call Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to testify before a parliamentary committee over a government contract awarded to a charity that had paid his family large sums of money.

Conservative lawmaker Pierre Poilievre told a press conference his party would ask Trudeau to appear under oath before the House of Commons finance committee.

“Either the PM can agree voluntarily to show up and attend – that’s what he will do if he has nothing to hide – or Parliament can compel him to appear,” Poilievre said.

The opposition has already demanded a police investigation to uncover whether fraud was committed in the government’s granting of a US$900 million contract to WE Charity.

The organisation has admitted paying nearly C$300,000 to Trudeau’s mother, brother and wife for speaking engagements.

And Trudeau himself admitted to taking part in negotiations with the charity over the contract.

The episode is already under investigation by the country’s ethics watchdog, and marks the third time in just as many years that Trudeau has found himself at the centre of an ethics firestorm.

The ethics commissioner has already released two reports concluding that Trudeau violated the Conflict of Interest Act: in 2017, for taking a vacation on the Aga Khan’s private island, and last year for trying to influence legal proceedings in the SNC-Lavalin case, in which a subsidiary of the engineering company was accused of paying bribes to secure contracts in Libya.

WE Charity has said it was withdrawing from the US$900 million federal programme.

It had hired more than 450 contract workers, according to the Toronto Star, and is now forced to lay them off.