Op-ed: Saskatchewanians deserve clarity on Justin Trudeau’s ‘WE’ scandal

Saskatchewanians are resilient people. We play by the rules and want to do our part in rebuilding our economy after COVID-19. So, when students were told that the Liberal government was developing a ‘Canada Student Service Grant’ (CSSG) that would enable them to support their communities, there was cause for optimism.

Leave it to Justin Trudeau’s Liberals to keep students out in the cold. It’s been over a month now since Justin Trudeau’s ‘WE’ Scandal broke – a scheme to reward the WE Charity for their close ties and support of Justin Trudeau’s family and the Liberal Party.

Over a five-year period, federal contributions to WE increased tenfold. Over that same period, WE paid members of Trudeau’s family over $500,000 to speak at and attend their events. Plus, despite his clear conflict of interest with WE, Justin Trudeau’s handpicked Finance Minister, Bill Morneau accepted two luxury vacations worth $41,000 in 2017.

As Canadians learn more about the scandal, Justin Trudeau’s story keeps changing. Like you, I’m tired of the doublespeak.

In June, it was revealed that the ‘WE’ Charity would receive the nearly $1 billion CSSG contract. At the time, the Liberals told us that WE would receive $19 million to manage it. In July, that cost skyrocketed to over $43 million.

When the scandal broke, Justin Trudeau told us repeatedly that WE was the only organization that could deliver the CSSG. However, we now know that WE has no presence in Quebec, and that WE contracted the delivery of the grant in francophone communities to a public relations firm. This contradicts Justin Trudeau’s claim that only WE could deliver the program. 

Cabinet approved WE to manage the CSSG on May 22nd, but it began incurring expenses for the program on May 5th – two and a half weeks earlier. Why was WE so sure that they would be approved? Although Justin Trudeau claims that he had axed discussion of WE from a May 8th cabinet meeting for further scrutiny, multiple witnesses have told us the opposite.

These inconsistencies need clarity, but by shutting down Parliament, the Liberals have made it difficult for Conservatives to hold the Prime Minister to account. Saskatchewan’s Conservative caucus is doing all it can to shed light on this scandal and get the truth that you deserve. The Ethics Commissioner is investigating, and Conservatives have written to the RCMP and the Lobbying Commissioner asking them to investigate. However, we can’t do it alone. Full, in-person sittings of the House of Commons are needed urgently, which is why I sponsored e-petition 2629 back in May. Now that Trudeau has prorogued Parliament, signing e-2629 online before September 26th is even more crucial because he has already ‘artificially’ prorogued for months. It is never too late to take governments to task for poor decisions. 

As Justin Trudeau’s WE Scandal unravels and more of the truth comes to light, Trudeau’s story will inevitably change. However, one thing is certain: the CSSG was never about students. By putting his family and friends above the people he was elected to serve, Justin Trudeau has put Saskatchewan’s recovery at risk. Our students – all Canadians – deserve better.

Cathay Wagantall, MP