Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has denied any role in choosing a charity linked to his family to run a major government program.
Witnessing to the House of Commons, he denied any involvement by him or his staff in the program that caused huge political controversy in Canada.
Mr Trudeau is under scrutiny for failing to refrain from decisions around the program.
He is being investigated by a federal ethics guard for failing to do so.
On Thursday, Mr. Trudeau told the finance committee in Ottawa that the decision to exploit WE Charity for the student volunteer program was made independently of the federal public service.
He says he only found out that the charity was recommended by the public service for the program in early May.
WE Charity previously paid the Prime Minister’s mother and brother to speak at events between 2017-18 and Mr Trudeau and his wife were involved in the organization.
The Prime Minister says he knew there would be scrutiny over the deal because of those ties, so he called on bureaucrats to “do their due diligence” when he first learned of the plan to force them to run. the program.
He said they came back two weeks later and told him that WE Charity was the only organization that could manage the program.
“WE Charity has not received any preferential treatment not from me, and not from anyone else,” the MP said.
Opposition members on Thursday accused Mr Trudeau of putting the public service “under the bus”.
What is the background?
The case centers around the decision by WE Charity to administer Canada’s new Student Service Grant Program.
The program, which had an initial budget of C $ 912m ($ 680m, £ 534m), was intended to award grants to students for volunteer roles to help make up for the lack of summer jobs due to the pandemic.
WE Charity had previously paid the Prime Minister’s mother and brother a total of more than C $ 280,000 to speak at events between 2017-18.
Mr. Trudeau and his wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau appeared regularly at charity events.
Trudeau family members were also reimbursed for any expenses related to these events.
We Charity withdrew from the contract over the controversy on 2 July. Mr Trudeau apologized for not apologizing for the related discussions.
The family of Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau also has ties to WE Charity.
What is WE Charity?
WE Charity was founded 25 years ago by brothers Craig and Marc Kielburger at their parents ’home in Tornhill, Ontario, when Craig was just 12 years old.
Formerly known as Free the Children, the charity focused on ending child exploitation and quickly drew international recognition.
WE WE’s charity’s motivational speaking conferences have become rites of passage for many young Canadians, who are designed for its message that they can change the world. The roster of celebrity speakers and artists also appealed to many participants.
It is now a broad organization with operations in the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States.
Its founders told MPs on 28 July that they had not received the contribution agreement due to some political connections and that they had not obtained it financially.
How will this affect Trudeau?
This is the third ethics investigation in five years conducted by Mr. Trudeau.
In 2017, a guardian of government ethics ruled that the Prime Minister violated the rules of conflict of interest when he and his family quarreled with billionaire spiritual leader Aga Khan.
The billionaire’s foundation is a registered lobbyist and has received hundreds of millions from the federal government over the past few decades, from both the Liberal and Conservative parties.
Last August, the tsar of federal ethics found that Mr Trudeau had violated the rules of the conflict of federal interest by trying to influence a former minister in the SNC-Lavalin corruption inquiry.
Following this latest controversy, Mr Trudeau’s Liberal Party has been successful in voting, although his government has been well on its way since its pandemic response earlier.
An Abacus Data poll on Thursday showed the Liberals dropped to four points above the Conservatives.
A survey by Nanos Research found that Mr Trudeau was the preferred prime minister for 34% of Canadians, down from 40% last month. The Angus Reid Institute found that its approval ratings fell 11 points since May – and that the loss came primarily from Liberal voters.