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 photo
Castlegar sees spike in crime over winter

Local RCMP report increase in calls

Kirk Duff is running for mayor in the upcoming Castlegar byelection Photo: Submitted
Third candidate enters Castlegar mayor’s race

Kirk Duff previously served 18 years as a city councillor

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
43 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health

368 cases in the region remain active

The Kaslo Outdoor Recreation and Trail Society will build a trail on Mount Buchanan, seen here with society secretary Stuart Heard, with support from Columbia Basin Trust. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay trails receive Columbia Basin Trust funding

Several locations in the West Kootenay are undergoing upgrades

A member of the Avalanche Canada South Rockies field team gathers important snowpack data that is used to produce daily avalanche forecasts for the region. Photo by Jennifer Coulter.
Warming temperatures increase avalanche risk heading into the weekend

Warm temperatures impact conditions, human behaviour

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next

564 new cases, four deaths, no new outbreaks Thursday

Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne speaks in the B.C. legislature, March 4, 2021. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals, NDP sing in harmony on local election reforms

Bill regulates paid canvassers, allows people in condo buildings

(National Emergency Management Agency)
No tsunami risk to B.C. from powerful New Zealand earthquake: officials

An 8.1 magnitude earthquake shook the north of New Zealand Thursday morning

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

(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
Pandemic stress, isolation key factors as to why Canadians turned to cannabis, alcohol

Study found that isolation played key role in Canadians’ substance use

Grand Forks’ Gary Smith stands in front of his Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster float. Photo: Submitted
Grand Forks’ Flying Spaghetti Monster leader still boiling over driver’s licence photo

Gary Smith, head of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster of B.C., said he has since spoken to lawyers

A Cowichan Valley mom is wondering why masks haven’t been mandated for elementary schools. (Metro Creative photo)
B.C. mom frustrated by lack of mask mandate for elementary students

“Do we want to wait until we end up like Fraser Health?”

(Pxhere)
B.C. research reveals how pandemic has changed attitudes towards sex, health services

CDC survey shows that 35 per cent of people were worried about being judged

Most Read