(The Canadian Press)

Craig, Marc Kielburger to testify at Commons committee over student program

Trudeau and his top aide, chief of staff Katie Telford, are also set to testify about the program and deal with WE

The co-founders of WE Charity are to testify before a House of Commons committee today as part of a parliamentary probe into a $912-million student-volunteer program that federal officials believed would cost $543 million.

Brothers Craig and Marc Kielburger, who helped found the organization two decades ago, are scheduled to speak this afternoon with MPs on the finance committee about the Canada Student Service Grant program.

In a statement last week, the brothers said they agreed to testify to set the record straight about their involvement.

WE Charity backed out of administering the program in early July amid a controversy over the Liberals’ awarding the organization a sole-sourced contract despite its close ties to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The controversy for the government has only deepened since, as the federal ethics watchdog has launched probes of Trudeau and Finance Minister Bill Morneau over their involvement in cabinet decisions despite WE’s having paid Trudeau’s family members speaking fees, and Morneau’s familial ties to the group.

Further compounding problems for the finance minister was his admission last week that he had just repaid the organization more than $41,000 in travel expenses for WE-sponsored trips he and his family took three years ago.

Opposition MPs have raised multiple questions about the due diligence conducted on the organization, arguing that testimony to date suggests the group had the inside track on the contract to run the program.

Trudeau and his top aide, chief of staff Katie Telford, are scheduled to testify Thursday about the program and deal with WE.

The program is supposed to provide grants of $1,000 for every 100 hours of volunteering, up to a maximum of $5,000 as part of a government aid program to help defray the cost of school in the fall.

WE was to administer the program and connect young people with service opportunities through an online platform that would have also paid WE a fee worth $43.5 million if the program reached its maximum potential.

A copy of the agreement filed with the committee this week noted that the federal government only planned to spend $500 million in grants, even though the Liberals touted the program as having a $912-million budget.

A spokesperson for Employment and Social Development Canada, the federal department overseeing the program, says the $543 million was what officials estimated it would cost to administer and pay grants to up to 100,000 eligible students or recent graduates — “the expected uptake of the program.”

“If demand exceeded the number of grants funded in original (agreement), additional funding would have still been available for the program,” spokesman Michael O’Shaughnessy said.

WE was paid its first fees of $19.5 million on June 30 — seven days after it signed the federal deal on June 23. Three days later, on July 3, the organization backed out of the agreement. It has promised to repay every dollar it received.

At the time, WE said things were largely in place for the federal public service to manage.

However, problems have emerged with what WE put in place and the government has yet to announce a timeline to let students access the program.

The Canadian Press

CoronavirusJustin Trudeau

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Shuswap dragon boaters honour teammate’s cancer-fighting accomplishments

Friends Abreast team provides special recognition outside Salmon Arm hospital

Invasive mussel monitoring stations detect 10 boats

Boats were headed to Okanagan and Thompson regions

Collisions with a barrier, a deer and a tree demand Chase RCMP’s attention

Transport truck shreds tires along concrete barrier on Highway 1 east of Kamloops

Salmon Arm’s first Bitcoin ATM installed in mall

The kiosk will allow people to buy cryptocurrency or sell it for cash.

Algae bloom highlights nutrient concerns in Shuswap water quality report

Shuswap Watershed Council releases 2019 water quality report

578 British Columbians currently infected with COVID-19

Seventy-eight new cases confirmed in past 24 hours

Man who drove into music festival crowd sentenced to 14 months in jail

Several people seriously hurt during event held near Princeton

Conservation seizes fawn illegally kept captive in Vancouver Island home

A Comox Valley resident charged and fined under the Wildlife Act

Vandals put Vernon public piano out of play

Downtown instrument destroyed, but public project is not over

Pandemic could be driving more parents to get on board with flu shot: study

University of B.C. study gauges willingness for parents to vaccinate children for influenza

Summerland mayor asks for community conversation on racism

Incidents in July prompt calls for dialogue

Westside wildfire human caused

Blaze started as a house fire and spread to the bush

Summerland working to reopen recreation facilities

Arena and pool are opening, but ball season will not proceed

Surrey man found guilty in West Kelowna killing of common-law spouse

Tejwant Danjou was convicted of second-degree murder in the July 2018 death of Rama Gauravarapu in West Kelowna

Most Read