In a statement on Thursday, the Prime Minister’s Office said that the fact that Trudeau’s mother and brother had both been paid by WE Charity in the past was not a factor in a $912 million contract his government offered to the organization.
“The Prime Minister’s relatives engage with a variety of organizations and support many personal causes on their own accord,” the PMO wrote.
“What is important to remember here is that this is about a charity supporting students. The Canada Student Service Grant program is about giving young people opportunities to contribute to their communities, not about benefits to anyone else.”
On Thursday, Canadaland reported that the Trudeau family has been paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by WE Charity since 2016.
The Prime Minister’s mother Margaret Trudeau received $312,000 for 28 speaking events for WE. Justin Trudeau’s brother Alexandre was paid $40,000 for eight events.
In addition, wife of the Prime Minister Sophie Grégoire Trudeau also received $1,500 from WE in 2012. Grégoire Trudeau is also a “WE ambassador and ally.”
WE Charity has previously stated that they had never paid the Trudeau family, which the family had never corrected publicly. WE justified its past claims by saying that the Trudeaus were paid by ME to WE Social Enterprise, a sister organization, rather than WE itself.
The Trudeau government originally announced that WE Charity would be administering the Canada Student Service Grant program. With this decision came a $912 million sole-source contract for the organization.
After publicly outcry and accusations of cronyism, WE Charity withdrew from the contract with the government.
“Obviously, the way this situation has unfolded has been unfortunate. We will continue to work hard to make sure that young people get the opportunities to serve their country, but it will no longer be with the WE organization,” Trudeau said.
The WE Charity scandal has resulted in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s sixth ethics investigation since taking office.
Last week Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion confirmed that he had opened an investigation at the behest of the Conservatives and NDP.