WE Charity engaged in extensive lobbying before they were awarded a $912 million federal contract.
Records obtained by National Post revealed that WE Charity lobbied the Liberal government 43 times before they were awarded the contract to administer Canada Student Service Grant.
Among WE’s lobbying efforts include three meetings with the Privy Council and eight meetings with aides to Finance Minister Bill Morneau.
Out of the 43 meetings, 38 of them occurred between the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak on March 11 and May 5.
In July, it was revealed that members of the Trudeau family had received $564,846 in speaking gigs with the charity.
Through the contract to administer the Canada Student Service Grant, WE could have earned as much as $43.5 million. WE has since walked away from the federal contract after the deal was met with public scrutiny.
On Wednesday, WE Charity Executive Director Dalal Al-Waheidi told the House of Commons finance committee that WE is finally obeying the Lobbying Act.
“I would like to share that we have registered as lobbyists, but I also want to provide context which I think is really important,” she said.
“For the past year our engagement with the government was about one to three percent of our overall budget. At the time we thought it was minimal. If I thought registration was required, we would have done it.”
Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre noted that WE should have registered to lobby long before they held any meetings. The Conservatives had previously filed a complaint to the lobbying commissioner over WE’s practices.
“It’s an incredible coincidence that your organization has suddenly registered to lobby, all of these months after all the lobbying happened,” he said.
The Lobbying Act requires that groups which have employees “whose duties is to communicate with public office holders,” are required to register as lobbyists.
Failure to follow the Lobbying Act could result in fines of up to $200,000 or up to two years in jail.