Tories say police should investigate WE charity scandal

'Call cops on WE scandal'

The Conservatives said Friday they want a criminal investigation into the Liberal government's decision to have the WE organization run a $900-million program for student volunteers.

Their call for police to step in comes after it was revealed that the group has paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in speaking fees to members of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's family over several years.

Trudeau is already under investigation by the ethics commissioner for potential conflict of interest with regard to the contract, as his long-standing family ties to the group are well known.

But that review was launched prior to revelations the prime minister's mother, brother and wife have been paid in the past by the WE organization.

"The revelation that $350,000 in cash was paid by this organization to immediate members of Justin Trudeau's family, that organization that he awarded a sole-sourced $1-billion contract to, that revelation raises the need for the police to take a look at it," Conservative ethics critic Michael Barrett said Friday.

The WE organization said Thursday that it had paid Trudeau's mother Margaret about $250,000 for 28 speaking appearances at WE-related events between 2016 and 2020.

The prime minister's brother Alexandre has been paid $32,000 for eight events, according to WE. The organization that represents them as speakers was paid additional commissions, WE said.

And Trudeau's wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau received $1,400 in 2012 for a single appearance that year.

Besides being Trudeaus, Margaret Trudeau has profile as a mental-health advocate and has been in the public eye for decades; Alexandre Trudeau is a filmmaker; and Sophie Gregoire Trudeau has had a career in television.

Most of the payments went from the for-profit component of the organization called ME to WE Social Enterprise, which sponsors the charitable component, WE Charity said in a statement.

About $64,000 went from WE Charity to Margaret Trudeau's speaker's bureau because of "an error in billing / payment" that WE said was later corrected.

"Justin Trudeau has never been paid by WE Charity or ME to WE Social Enterprise for any speeches or any other matters," WE Charity said.

Trudeau's office said Thursday said "the prime minister's relatives engage with a variety of organizations and support many personal causes on their own accord."

Trudeau has maintained the non-partisan public service recommended WE to administer the Canada Student Services Grant program

The volunteer program promised to pay students $1,000 toward education costs for every 100 hours of volunteering they do between now and early fall, through approved charities and non-profits.

Trudeau said in announcing WE as the program's manager in late June that it was the only organization in Canada with the reach and expertise needed to run it properly.

He did not recuse himself from cabinet approval of the deal.

Placements are uncertain now that WE has withdrawn and the government itself is taking the program over.

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