Canada A short history of Justin Trudeau's scandal-plagued Liberal government
He prorogued in August, but now Trudeau slams Tories for bringing back WE Charity investigations
OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his government is focused on COVID-19 and criticized the Conservatives for trying to bring back committee investigations into the WE Charity affair — investigations that were interrupted two months ago by Trudeau’s own choice to prorogue Parliament. “We are entirely focused on the second wave of COVID-19,” Trudeau said at a news conference Tuesday. “We will continue to stay focused on what we need to do to support Canadians facing a very difficult time right now. The Conservatives continue to want to focus on WE charity, so be it.
The Liberal government under Justin Trudeau has had its share — maybe more than its share — of scandal and controversy and, depending how things go today, one of them might actually bring the minority government down, forcing an election in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The scandals started early. They’ve kept going. Some involve gifts; others involve lobbying; still others involve forgotten chalets by the finance minister.
Conservatives push for vote on WE scandal as Liberals delay committee motions
OTTAWA — The Conservatives are looking to force a vote over a proposal to probe deeper into the WE Charity scandal, part of an effort by the opposition to reignite the controversy that rocked the Trudeau government this summer. Conservative members announced plans Thursday to move a motion next week that would establish an “anti-corruption committee” of 15 MPs to delve into the WE scandal and other possible conflicts of interest. The motion will be debated during opposition day in Parliament, scheduled for Tuesday.
Here’s a short history of the Trudeau government’s scandals.
The Aga Khan
Justin Trudeau first got in trouble with the ethics commissioner in December 2017, when it came out that he’d broken conflict of interest rules by vacationing at the Aga Khan’s private island over Christmas.
At issue: the Aga Khan’s foundation is registered to lobby the government. Also, Trudeau rode in the Aga Khan’s private helicopter. Also, the Aga Khan Foundation has received tens of millions of dollars from the federal government.
Costumes in India
Not an ethics scandal,, but Justin Trudeau found himself a laughing stock after a trip to India in February 2018 where he enthusiastically dressed in various local costume, to the bemusement of Indian officials.
COMMENTARY: The Liberals are being disingenuous in their push to end WE Charity investigations
As much as it’s in the Liberals’ vested interest to have everyone to forget about and move on from this scandal, we don’t yet have all the answers here, Rob Breakenridge says.In trying to make sense of the prime minister’s decision to prorogue Parliament back in August, derailing the committee investigations into the WE Charity scandal always seemed like a plausible explanation.
There’s another side to this story: A photo emerged on the trip of Sophie Grégoire Trudeau with a man named Jaspal Atwal at a reception in Mumbai.
Atwal was convicted in 1986 of the attempted murder of an Indian politician. This led to numerous questions about how he ended up at that reception.
Costume, part two
The hardest blow to Trudeau personally came during the 2019 election campaign, when a handful of photos came out of him dressed in blackface, a racist caricaturing of Black people. There were three photos: a 2001 yearbook photo when he was a teacher, a photo from when he was in high school, and a video of him as a young man.
“It was something that I didn’t think was racist at the time, but now I recognize it was something racist to do and I am deeply sorry,” Trudeau said.
Liberal insider warned of 'potential for a scandal' in judicial appointment process
A Liberal official complained to his superiors last year about the Prime Minister's Office playing an overbearing role in the judicial appointment process, warning that partisan considerations have created the "potential for a scandal," according to emails obtained by Radio-Canada. The internal warning came from François Landry, a political aide who worked directly on the judicial appointment process in the office of Justice Minister David Lametti at the time. "Need to talk about what PMO requires us to do prior to a judicial appointment. It raises some concerns," Landry wrote to chief of staff Rachel Doran on February 18, 2019.
In 2018, a newspaper piece from 2000 emerged: A reporter alleged that Trudeau, who was 28 at the time, was at the Kokanee Summit in Creston, B.C., raising money for a charity. An editorial in the local paper said Trudeau was accused of “groping” and “inappropriately handling” a female reporter during the event.
Reached by CBC in 2018, the woman said “The incident referred to in the editorial did occur, as reported. Mr. Trudeau did apologize the next day. I did not pursue the incident at the time and will not be pursuing the incident further. I have had no subsequent contact with Mr. Trudeau, before or after he became Prime Minister.”
Trudeau apologized: “Over the past weeks, since this news resurfaced, I’ve been reflecting, we’ve all been reflecting, on past behaviours,” he said. “And as I’ve said, I’m confident I didn’t act inappropriately, but I think the essence of this is people can experience interactions differently and part of the lesson we need to learn in this moment of collective awakening … people in many cases, women, experience interactions in professional contexts and other contexts differently than men.”
Kelly McParland: Election threat shows Trudeau doesn't like being questioned — on anything
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau doesn’t like his actions being questioned. He doesn’t like it from Parliament, he doesn’t like it from the opposition, he doesn’t like it during Question Period. He doesn’t like it from his own caucus, he doesn’t like it from his cabinet ministers, he doesn’t like it from Commons committees. He just doesn’t like it — get it? He seems to take it personally. He gets very indignant, whether the questions are about his personal actions, those of his family or those of his government.
The SNC Lavalin scandal
SNC-Lavalin, a Liberal-connected firm in Quebec, was facing charges regarding alleged bribes to officials in Libya. The company had lobbied the federal government for a Deferred Prosecution Agreement, which would have allowed them to avoid criminal charges.
The Public Prosecution Service of Canada said no, they had to stand trial.
Enter several prominent Liberals who pushed Jody Wilson-Raybould, then minister of justice and attorney general, to find a solution that didn’t involve SNC-Lavalin standing trial and a criminal conviction that would have barred them from receiving government contracts in Canada.
Enquiries confirmed inappropriate actions by the prime minister and several staff members.
Wilson-Raybould resigned over the affair.
WE Charity scandal
In June, the government said WE Charity would run a student grant program, which was part of COVID-19 relief. The contract to WE was given via a sole-source agreement, not an open competition.
At issue specifically is that Trudeau, and former finance minister Bill Morneau, had personal conenections to WE and were involved in the decision-making process, without recusing themselves.
Morneau’s daughter works for WE. His other daughter has spoken at WE events. And, he’d been on trips paid for by WE in 2017 — Morneau has since paid back the $41,000.
Probe into federal COVID-19 response necessary to learn from first wave, O'Toole says
Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole said Thursday a wide-ranging investigation into the Liberal government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic is necessary so that Parliamentarians can learn from the lessons and mistakes of the first wave — and better respond to the ongoing second wave and possible future waves. The Official Opposition is using its second opposition day this week to debate a motion calling for a probe by the House of Commons health committee into a host of issues relating to the government's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As for Trudeau, his family has been involved with and paid by WE. WE initially denied they had paid Trudeau’s mother, Margaret, his wife, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau or his brother, Alexandre.
As it turned out, Margaret has been paid $250,000 for speaking at 28 events, and Alexandre received $32,000 for speaking at eight events.
Grégoire Trudeau, who’s hosted a podcast for WE, was not paid, although she was reimbursed for travel expenses.
The illegal casino magnate
Earlier this month, the National Post reported that Wei Wei, a Toronto real estate developer, has been charged after police raided an illegal casino inside a mansion.
Wei met at least twice in 2016 with Trudeau and was a part of a Chinese government-endorsed industry group that met with Trudeau. A member of that delegation donated $1 million to the Trudeau foundation and sponsored a statue of Pierre Trudeau.
That meeting led to a reformation of Liberal party fundraising rules.
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Committee bid to unearth Trudeaus' WE Charity speaking contracts fails when Bloc MP votes 'no' by mistake .
OTTAWA — After enduring nearly three weeks of Liberal filibustering, opposition MPs trying to acquire WE Charity speaking contracts involving Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife were shut down Monday when a Bloc Québécois MP voted against the initiative — by mistake. It was supposed to be a straightforward vote at the federal ethics committee to force the release of all invoices for the speeches Trudeau and his wife delivered to WE Charity in the past decade. Opposition MPs want to verify how much money WE Charity and its affiliates have paid the Trudeau family in the years leading up to the now-defunct $543.