Finance Minister Bill Morneau says he’s repaid the WE charity organization more than $40,000 to cover expenses related to two trips his family took in 2017 after recently realizing he hadn’t been charged.
Morneau told the House of Commons Finance Committee on July 22 that he reviewed his family’s records and discovered that he was “unable to locate receipts” related to expenses incurred at “WE facilities” during those trips, including a “humanitarian” visit to Ecuador.
“I expected and always had intended to pay the full cost of these trips. Not doing so, even unknowingly, is not appropriate,” he said. “My practice has always been to pay for expenses incurred.”
Mr. Morneau and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are both facing probes being conducted by the Parliamentary Ethics Commissioner over their participation in deliberations that led the government to award WE the since-cancelled oversight of a $912-million program, which seeks to place students in volunteer positions in exchange for bursaries.
Conflict of interest rules stipulate that high-ranking public officials cannot accept free trips. NDP ethics critic Charlie Angus, MP for Timmins–James Bay, noted that Mr. Trudeau was found in violation of those rules when he vacationed at the Aga Khan’s private island in the Caribbean at no expense to him and his family.
And recall the SNC Lavalin scandal. Trudeau insisted in 2018 that the giant Canadian engineering firm be excused from prosecution for law-breaking corrupt practices. More recently, Trudeau’s mother and brother received hundreds of thousands of dollars in speaking fees from WE, to which the Prime Minister turned a blind eye. Does the rule ‘three strikes and you’re out’ apply only in baseball?
At any rate, the bigger issue is the very mission of WE which does little, if anything, to curtail global underdevelopment.