Tangled web WE weaves

Residents have been connecting with me about many issues the past few weeks.

Some of the most frequent include:

  • Businesses still struggling with employees coming back to work
  • Concerns regarding the opening of businesses and services
  • Questions regarding the Canada-U.S. border
  • The federal government’s WE Charity agreement
  • National debt
  • Concerns from people on disability
  • Constituents needing help with many of the federal services and programs.

Service Canada has announced that its offices will be re-opening, however, it is not clear when or at what capacity. Please contact our office if you need assistance navigating through any federal government program.

The government’s economic “snapshot” showed we are $343 billion in debt. We now know that out of the G7 countries:

  • Canada has the highest unemployment
  • We are the only country to lose its AAA credit rating.
  • The only country without a recovery plan.

This week, the House of Commons voted unanimously to approve legislation to provide people with disabilities with a one-time $600 payment, extending some legal deadlines for court cases, and extend the wage subsidy program until the end of the year.

The expansion of the wage subsidy will amend the calculations so that more businesses are applicable, and there is a graduating scale based on lost revenue.

Feedback we’ve been getting is that these changes are complicated, and the Official Opposition asked to simplify the formulas and parameters. This legislation is now being sent to the Senate for debate.

There is information coming out of the WE Charity agreement to operate the $912 million Summer Student Grant Program as opposition parties ask questions in the House of Commons and at committee meetings.

We learned the amount being paid to WE Charity was to be more than double what the government originally disclosed, up to $43.5 million.

We learned the Prime Minister’s family received almost $300,000 from 36 speaking engagements in the last four years.

The Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner is investigating the Prime Minister and Finance Minister. The Procurement Ombudsmen was asked to look at the process that went into granting the agreement.

Government officials testified that they received a proposal from WE Charity to administer the program and it was approved the next day. Various charities and the public service came out stating they were not given the opportunity to be considered.

The Lobbying Commissioner has been asked to look into whether WE Charity was lobbying the government, while not registered as a lobbyist.

On July 22, media reported that the agreement was signed with WE Charity Foundation, a separate entity that received charity status last year whose stated purpose is to hold real estate.

A charity watchdog reported that WE Charity is in breach of its financial covenants on its bank debt, that its bank waived these conditions for the current period and the bank loans are secured against WE Charity’s properties valued at $39.4 million.

There are also questions about privacy and data security for individuals who signed up for the program and questions about how much money would actually go to students from the $912 million.

It also came to light that Finance Minister Bill Morneau accepted two sponsored trips by WE Charity worth $41,000 a few years ago, which is clearly not allowed.

The minister paid it back on July 22, the day he testified before the Finance Committee. The ethical compass of the Prime Minister and many others in the Liberal Caucus should be of great concern to Canadians.

As our community continues to re-open, it is important that we all still practise social distancing and use vigilance in cleaning and sanitizing ourselves and our environments so we can keep people healthy, businesses operating, and enjoy our summer. 

Please contact me to let me know what is important to you. I appreciate all the feedback I have been receiving from our community. 250-470-5075, [email protected]; tracygraymp.ca.


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About the Author

Tracy Gray, MP for Kelowna-Lake Country, is the Official Opposition’s Shadow Minister for Export Promotion and International Trade.

She also serves on the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology, and is a member of the National Caucus Committees Credit Union Caucus, Wine Caucus, and Aviation Caucus.

Gray, who has won the RBC Canadian Woman Entrepreneur of the year, and Kelowna Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Award, worked for 27 years in the B.C. beverage industry.

She founded and owned Discover Wines VQA Wine Stores, which included the No. 1 wine store in B.C. for 13 years. She has been involved in small businesses in different sectors — financing, importing, oil and gas services and a technology start-up — and is among the “100 New Woman Pioneers in B.C."

Gray was a Kelowna city councillor for the 2014 term, on the Passenger Transportation Board 2010-2012, and elected to the board of Prospera Credit Union for 10 years.

In addition, she served on the Okanagan Film Commission, Clubhouse Childcare Society, Kelowna Chamber of Commerce, Okanagan Regional Library as a Trustee and was chair of the Okanagan Basin Water Board.

She volunteers extensively in the community and welcomes connecting with residents.

She can be reached at 250-470-5075, and [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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