Morneau under ethics investigation over WE Charity involvement
The latest scandal denting Justin Trudeau’s political brand has reached beyond the Canadian prime minister’s office.
Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s involvement in the awarding of a government contract for a COVID-19 student aid program to a charity with ties to Trudeau’s family will also now be scrutinized by Canada’s ethics watchdog.
Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion said in a letter to opposition lawmakers Thursday he will investigate Morneau’s own family ties to the WE Charity. The probe will determine whether the finance minister should have recused himself from the decision on the $20-million contract to administer the fund.
Morneau’s two daughters have ties to the group, including one who currently works for the organization.
The finance minister said he would fully cooperate with the ethics watchdog’s investigation and vowed to recuse himself from any further discussions regarding the non-profit.
“When it came to the administration of the Canada Student Service Grant, our focus from day one was delivering help to students as swiftly and efficiently as possible,” Morneau said in an email. “Given the fact that my daughter works for the WE organization in an unrelated branch, I should have recused myself in order to avoid any perception of conflict.”
Dion announced two weeks ago that Trudeau was facing the third ethics investigation of his time in power over his role in the same decision. The prime minister publicly apologized Monday for not recusing himself.
The government initially tapped WE to administer the Canada Student Service Grant, a $900-million fund that provides up to $5,000 in grants to students who volunteer over the summer.
Morneau has also been investigated by the ethics watchdog before. He paid a fine for failing to properly disclose a holiday residence in France and was cleared for owning shares in a family company that stood to benefit from government pension reforms.