OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said during a rare parliamentary committee appearance on Thursday that a donation with his family, which his government had chosen to manage a major student grant program, was given to someone Preferential treatment not found.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attended the Finance Committee meeting of the House of Commons on July 30, 2020 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. REUTERS / Blair Gable
The escalating scandal over the C $ 900 million ($ 671 million) program awarded to the WE charity hurt Trudeau in the polls, with his Liberal party leading by 4 points over the opposition Conservatives, the Abacus data poll showed on Thursday.
The Liberal-led government’s popularity had grown amid Canada’s response to the COVID-19 crisis.
Trudeau said in an early statement, “We did not get better treatment from the charity than anyone else.” “The public service recommended donations to us. I did absolutely nothing to influence that recommendation. ”
Which is consistent with the testimony of the same committee from the civil service. Amid a frantic attempt to advance programs to help Canadians during the epidemic, the Civil Service recommended WE Charity as the only organization capable of delivering the program quickly.
Testimony by a Canadian prime minister before a parliamentary committee is very unusual. This was the last time in 2006 when then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper appeared in one to speak about Senate reform.
Trudeau’s Chief of Staff, Katie Telford, will testify before the committee when the Prime Minister is finished.
Trudeau’s testimony comes after he was placed under investigation for possible conflict violations. This is the third ethics investigation encountered in three years.
The Prime Minister has already publicly apologized for participating in the Cabinet’s decision to choose the WE charity to administer the grant program. The charity was endorsed shortly after the program was announced.
The Canadian Ethical Commissioner launched an investigation after the WE charity revealed the payment to Trudeau’s mother and brother for the disclosure.
Both the Prime Minister and his wife, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, have regularly attended WE charity events.
($ 1 = 1.3409 Canadian dollars)
Additional reporting by Kelsey Johnson in Ottawa; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Aurora Ellis