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WE Charity document disclosure reveals possible federal meddling in service grant choice

An email by the assistant deputy minister of finance Michelle Kovacevic notes that the PMO was “weighing in” on the grant and that there was “positive communication with WE.”

A trove of documents released by the Liberal government reveals that the public service may have been pressured into picking WE Charity to oversee a $900 million student service grant.

Over 5,000 pages of government files were released earlier today to the finance committee. 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised to release the information on Tuesday after he announced a sudden prorogation of parliament. The day prior, Finance Minister Bill Morneau resigned from his position in the Liberal cabinet. 

The opposition has accused the prime minister of using prorogation to halt any further investigations into his conduct regarding the WE Charity scandal. 

Contained in the package are memorandums, emails and text messages which reference WE Charity’s oversight of the Canada Student Service Grant.  

One email dated to April 19 by the senior assistant deputy minister of Employment and Social Development Canada Rachel Wernick includes a request to speak to WE Charity founder Craig Kielburger about “something we are working on that might be of interest to WE.”

A day later, another email by the assistant deputy minister of finance Michelle Kovacevic notes that the Prime Minister’s Office was “weighing in” on the grant and that there was “positive communication with WE.” 

Throughout the scandal, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has claimed that it was the public service which was solely responsible for handing the organization the lucrative contract despite close personal and financial ties between him and other members of the Liberal cabinet and WE. 

“There was never any direction by or attempt to influence from me or my staff that the public service recommend WE Charity,” said Trudeau during his testimony before the Standing Committee on Finance. 

Conservative MP and finance critic Pierre Poilievre called the prime minister’s actions an attempted cover-up during a press conference earlier this afternoon. 

 “This is a cover-up. The prime minister personally intervened to give half a billion-dollar grant to a group that had paid his family half a million dollars. He is covering it up by blacking it out, and shutting down our investigations,” said Poilievre.

A number of key documents within the info dump released to the committee were completely blacked out or partially redacted. 

“Why don’t we ask what’s in those pages in a Parliamentary committee? Justin Trudeau shut down those Parliamentary committees. When did he do it? The same day these documents became public! What a coincidence,” said Poilievre.

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