"I wanted to push back and really make sure that everyone could say without a shadow of a doubt that this was...the way to deliver the program recommended by our outstanding and professional public servants", Trudeau said. She said another layer of scrutiny could have been added to dispel any perception of conflict of interest.
The WE Charity, which now finds itself at the centre of a political controversy involving the Liberal government, has done "excellent work" and the current situation is deeply regrettable, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday. He said he was anxious about a perception of conflict, and as a result asked the public service to "put the brakes on" to ensure the organization really was the only one that could have delivered the program.
"WE Charity received no preferential treatment not from me, not from anyone else", he told parliamentarians.
The escalating scandal over a multimillion-dollar programme granted to WE Charity Canada has hurt Trudeau in the polls, with his Liberal Party slipping to a four-point lead over the opposition Conservatives, an Abacus Data poll showed Thursday.
"The fact is the Kielburger brothers carefully cultivated their relationship with you and your brand".
The prime minister also noted that Dion previously approved Sophie Gregoire Trudeau's unpaid work with the organization prior to the creation of the CSSG.
Dion is already investigating Trudeau and Finance Minister Bill Morneau for possible violations of the Conflict of Interest Act for not recusing themselves during cabinet discussions about the WE deal.
"You consciously recognized in your May Cabinet meeting that such a conflict might exist ... that you were consciously aware that there was an inappropriate link to your family that would put you in a conflict". "My concern about recusing myself was around perceptions".
Conservative MP Michael Cooper grills Justin Trudeau's chief of staff, Katie Telford, on the prime minister's insistence that he "pushed back" on the proposal to task WE Charity with administering a $900-million student grant program.
© Provided by Associated Press Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appears as a witness via videoconference during a House of Commons finance committee in the Wellington Building on Thursday, July 30, 2020.
Trudeau repeatedly said during the meeting that he had "pushed back" on the recommendation by the public service that WE Charity was needed for the CSSG to go on.
Those included the sudden resignation of the head of WE's Canadian board of directors in March following the lay off of over 400 employees.
Trudeau said he expected the Canada Service Corps, a government entity, to administer the program when it was first formulated.
Canada's ethics commissioner launched the investigation after WE Charity disclosed that it had paid Trudeau's mother and brother for speaking appearances. "Later that same year, I traveled with my family to Ecuador to see and participate in WE's humanitarian work there", the finance minister said.
Trudeau said he didn't know Morneau had travelled with WE or that one of his daughters worked there.