Aug. 4, 2020

Perception Issues – Trudeau says he didn't see WE as a conflict

Teresa Wright of CBC News wrote on July 31 that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he knew there would be problems with "perception" related to having WE Charity run a $900-million student-volunteer program, but he believed there was no conflict of interest because his family would not benefit.  

The prime minister also said he did not seek guidance from the federal ethics commissioner after public servants recommended the WE organization to administer the Canada Student Service Grant — despite the fact that he knew the public and opposition politicians would scrutinize the deal because of his family's ties to WE.  Read her report here.

 What a barrel of bafflegab. Let’s begin with a Conflict of Interest Act definition:

Conflict of interest
4  For the purposes of this Act, a public office holder is in a conflict of interest when he or she exercises an official power, duty or function that provides an opportunity to further his or her private interests or those of his or her relatives or friends or to improperly further another person’s private interests.

Awarding a $930 million contract to administer a student grant program certainly furthered the private interests of the WE organization and its principals. That is a fact, not perception.
General duty
5  Every public office holder shall arrange his or her private affairs in a manner that will prevent the public officeholder from being in a conflict of interest.

Both Trudeau and Morneau were enthusiastic supporters of the WE organization and made no effort to hide their enthusiasm. It follows that not only were Trudeau and Morneau were not able to engage in government business with the WE organization, but the federal government could not engage in business with the WE organization without a conflict of interest.

6 (1)  No public office holder shall make a decision or participate in making a decision related to the exercise of an official power, duty or function if the public officeholder knows or reasonably should know that, in the making of the decision, he or she would be in a conflict of interest.
Every member of the Civil Service and every Minister in the Trudeau Cabinet knew that awarding a $930 million dollar contract to the WE Organization would improperly further WE organization’s private interests and was thus a conflict of interests. The entire Cabinet is in breach of the Act.
Abstention from voting
6 (2)  No minister of the Crown, minister of state or parliamentary secretary shall, in his or her capacity as a member of the Senate or the House of Commons, debate or vote on a question that would place him or her in a conflict of interest. 
Mr. Trudeau’s claim that he ‘pushed back’ against the recommendation to award the contract to the WE organization has burst into flames. By speaking to the matter, he violated the Act. That is a fact, not perception.

When our Prime Minister is caught in another apparent conflict of interest and tries to tell us that the problem is that we have a perception of wrongdoing it is time for him to leave his position. We have tolerated past mistakes but the day comes when mistakes are a habit and no longer tolerable.     

Trudeau is not overwhelmed in dealing with COVID. His government created the COVID crisis.
A $930 Million contract to dispense government grants to students is not something that can be handled with less than due diligence, great care to ensure that there are no mistakes and steps to ensure that all funds are properly handled and accounted for.  

We are can judge for ourselves whether Trudeau’s actions were ethical and honest. We have learned to pick out the frauds and swindlers that plague us on our telephones, e-mails and Internet sites. The more we learn about WE and government efforts to contract with the WE organization the worse the stench gets.

What else is stinking up Ottawa? Stay tuned!