Three Strikes You’re Out?

Can the Liberal Government get away with yet another scandal?

José Moro Guiterrez

COVID-19 has affected the lives of all Canadians (notably young Canadians) who are trying to find a job and struggling to make a payday. As a result of the ongoing pandemic, many summer jobs were lost. This led the Trudeau government to administer a payment program for the Canada Student Service Grant. The WE Charity was ultimately chosen by cabinet ministers to administer the program, in which $900 million was granted to post-secondary school students through volunteering opportunities. 

This move caused controversy because the Trudeau family, notably Trudeau’s wife Sophie Grégoire, had previously made several appearances with WE Charity at various events. On July 3rd, it was made public that Trudeau’s mother (Margaret Trudeau) and brother Alexandre Trudeau were paid $250 thousand and $32 thousand respectively, by the charity for making appearances at events from 2017 to 2018. 

It would be expected that after two major scandals, Trudeau taking his family on a trip to a private island at the Bahamas and the SNC-Lavalin affair (in which Trudeau’s government coerced then Minister Wilson-Raybould to intervene in the corruption lawsuit connecting SNC-Lavalin’s payment of $48 million payment to the Libyan government) Justin Trudeau would have learned the basic pillars the Prime Minister should embody: Honesty, morality and transparency. 

During Trudeau’s testimony, when asked by opposition members about the WE Group’s payments to his family, Trudeau initially claimed that he did not know how much money they received. When Conservative member Pierre Poilievre pressed the Prime Minister on this, Trudeau recused himself from answering and stated that the “information has been publicly shared”.

Additionally, Bill Morneau, then Finance Minister, was paid $41 thousand dollars by the WE Charity for trips to Ecuador and Kenya in 2017. Morneau did not reimburse those payments unill the morning of July 22nd, before his testimony in front of the House committee. During the testimony he claimed to be “unaware of [the payments]” and that he “did not know [they] had not been paid”. Despite his reimbursement, it seems he did this to simply salvage credibility. How can a finance minister do an appropriate job keeping tabs on federal expenses, when they are not even aware of their own personal finances? 

Morneau resigned the post of Finance Minister on August 17th. As his resignation seems forced due to the scandal, Morneau also seems to seek the support of the federal government, as he also declared his intentions to become the next Secretary-General of the OECD.

Trudeau’s misconduct forced him to prorogue parliament, resulting in all investigative procedures to be deliberately suspended by the Prime Minister until parliament returns.

A confidence vote is expected to take place September 23rd after the Throne Speech. However, a snap election is not entirely guaranteed. Jagmeet Singh, leader of the NDP, has expressed “help for Canadians” as a priority instead of forcing an election. Even if one party opposes the confidence vote, it would guarantee the temporary survival of Trudeau’s minority government.

Originally Published on Vol.50 Issue 02 on Wednesday, September 23rd, 2020

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