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

Sgt. Darryl Peppler said Mounties are continuing their investigation after Tuesday’s raid. File photo
Grand Forks RCMP arrest suspected drug traffickers at city motel

Police say they netted “a sizable amount” of money and suspected drugs following Tuesday’s arrests.

Midway RCMP’s Cpl. Phil Peters spoke at Greenwood’s city council meeting Monday, Nov. 23. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Police investigating burglary ‘ring’ with ties to Greenwood and Okanagan

Midway RCMP are looking at “persons of interest” in two Greenwood heists

The 29-year-old man pleaded guilty to one count of dangerous driving at Grand Forks Provincial Court Tuesday, Nov. 17. File photo
Grand Forks man gets 3-months curfew for role in Highway 3 chase

Guilty man thanked Judge Robert Brown, said he is committed to recovering from addiction

Two men got into a fight over a Grand Forks’ flower display last summer. One of the men resolved an assault charge by entering into a peace bond at Provincial Court Tuesday, Nov. 17. File photo
Grand Forks man takes peace bond after flower fisticuffs

Harsh words over a downtown flower display led to violent confrontation, said Crown attorney

A man wears a mask while walking down Canyon Street in Creston on Nov. 13. Photo: Aaron Hemens
Creston resident living with COVID-19 reflects on experience

Contracting and living with the virus, she said, has led to a “major reset” in her life

A man wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of COVID-19 walks in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest day of pandemic with 13 deaths, 738 new COVID-19 cases

Number of people in hospital is nearing 300, while total cases near 30,000

FILE - This May 4, 2020, file photo provided by the University of Maryland School of Medicine, shows the first patient enrolled in Pfizer's COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine clinical trial at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore.  Pfizer announced Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020, more results in its ongoing coronavirus vaccine study that suggest the shots are 95% effective a month after the first dose. (Courtesy of University of Maryland School of Medicine via AP, File)
VIDEO: B.C. planning for the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in the first weeks of 2021

The question of who will get the vaccine first relies on Canada’s ethical framework

This undated photo issued by the University of Oxford shows of vial of coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, in Oxford, England. (University of Oxford/John Cairns via AP)
Canada can make vaccines, just not the ones leading the COVID-19 race

Canada has spent more than $1 billion to pre-order seven different developing COVID-19 vaccines

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

British Columbia Premier John Horgan speaks during an announcement about a new regional cancer centre in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday, Aug. 6, 2020. Horgan is set to introduce his NDP government’s new cabinet Thursday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Horgan’s NDP cabinet built to tackle pandemic, economic recovery, says former premier

Seven former NDP cabinet ministers didn’t seek re-election, creating vacancies in several high-profile portfolios

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

The COVID-19 test centre at Peace Arch Hospital is located on the building’s south side. (Tracy Holmes photo)
B.C. woman calls for consistency in COVID-19 post-test messaging

‘Could we just get one thing straight?’ asks Surrey’s Deb Antifaev

(File photo)
Alberta woman charged after allegedly hitting boy with watermelon at Okanagan campsite

Police say a disagreement among friends at an Adams Lake campsite turned ugly

Court of Appeal for British Columbia in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. woman loses appeal to have second child by using late husband’s sperm

Assisted Human Reproduction Act prohibits the removal of human reproductive material from a donor without consent

Most Read