The controversy regarding the WE Charity student grant is still ongoing, and Bloc Quebecois are untiringly pushing for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his uppermost officials to resign. The matter was addressed on Wednesday during a special summer House of Commons sitting, but Trudeau was absent. Finance Minister Bill Morneau, who spoke on behalf of Trudeau during the meeting, said the prime minister continued to view his role, and their role as a government was to support Canadians. Besides, Morneau said they continued to be in emergency time as the opposition sorted new evidence about the WE affair and the continuing conflict of interest, as well as new concerns about the Liberals’ handling of the federal rent relief program.
Even though the prime minister has appeared before the House of Commons, the House of Ethics Committee has claimed to hear more from Trudeau on the WE affair and also awaits to receive some documents detailing more cabinet communication about the affair. Telford had also appeared before the committee, where she doubled down on Trudeau’s witness that he did nothing to influence the decision, instead, he wanted further scrutiny because the PMO was conscious early on of the apparent disagreement Trudeau had in granting the $912-million student volunteer grant program.
Small Business Minister Mary Ng and Employment Minister Carla Qualtroug were among those in the hot seat. Qualtrough claimed that the public service had made it clear WE Charity was the only organization in a position of delivering the grant. She further said that she had “every confidence that people did their homework.” In her opinion, Qualtrough noted that using a third party was the best way to go.
Andrew Scheer, the Official Opposition Leader in the House of Commons, called out Trudeau’s absenteeism and referenced a number of past Liberal scandals over his three years as a Conservative leader. He said the Prime Minister had had enough, and he was tired of accountability and facing tough questions. Scheer further said Trudeau didn’t want to explain why he paid off his friends at WE with taxpayers’ money, and he wouldn’t tell them about the contract that he gave to the company that employs his top staffer’s husband. NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh also interrogated the management’s handling of these aid programs. He said what they were seeing was Liberals, helping themselves instead of helping people.
Wednesday’s House sitting will allow parliamentarians to carry on with the discussion of the federal government’s COVID-19 pandemic response strategy. Additionally, the cabinet will respond on the status of the slate of pandemic aid programs as well as the current public health crisis. Once the COVID-19 issues are discussed, there will be a session for general questions, and WE controversy is set to be the central subject matter. After the Aug. 26 sitting day, the next will be held on Sept. 21. During this time, the opposition may try to move a motion of non-confidence in the Liberal minority government if the WE controversy will still be a matter of concern.
There is already a non-confidence motion on notice put forth by the Conservatives. The motion was presented some months ago before the COVID-19 pandemic and WE affair. The party now can table that motion. However, the committee remains in a political leadership dividing line as it awaits the outcome of the election to name a new leader.