Canada’s Conservative opposition on Friday demanded a police investigation into allegations that members of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s family were paid by a charity at the heart of an ethics investigation.
The country’s ethics watchdog said last week that it had launched a probe into the prime minister, after a controversial contract to manage a major government program was awarded to WE Charity in June.
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The charity had previously paid Margaret Trudeau, the prime minister’s mother, CAN$250,000 (US$184,000) for speeches at 28 events between 2016 and 2020, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC).
WE Charity also paid Justin Trudeau’s brother Alexandre $32,000 for his participation in eight events, the CBC reported.
And the prime minister’s office had confirmed that Trudeau’s wife Sophie “received $1,500” for participating in a WE event in 2012, before he took over the leadership of the Liberal Party.
“We know that there are significant financial benefits that have been received by the family of the prime minister,” Conservative lawmaker Michael Barrett told reporters.
“It’s very clear there is sufficient grounds for this matter to be investigated by the police,” he added.
WE Charity has said it was withdrawing from the $900 million federal program, which provides grants of up to $5,000 to eligible students for volunteer work with non-profit organizations during the coronavirus pandemic.
“We have a sole-source contract worth a billion dollars, a program that was created out of thin air,” Barrett said.
Canada’s Conservative Party considers the existing ethics investigation to be insufficient given new revelations about the sums paid to the Trudeau family before the contract was awarded.
“It’s not just a conflict of interest. It’s much more serious than that,” said Conservative lawmaker Pierre Poilievre.
He asked federal police to investigate whether there had been violations of laws regulating “frauds on government.”
The ethics commissioner has already released two reports concluding that Trudeau violated the Conflict of Interest Act: in 2017, for taking a vacation on the Aga Khan’s private island, and last year for trying to influence legal proceedings in the SNC-Lavalin case, in which a subsidiary of the engineering company was accused of paying bribes to secure contracts in Libya.