Canada's finance minister just paid WE Charity more than $40k to reimburse family trips
Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau admitted on Wednesday to writing WE Charity a cheque for $41,366 to reimburse the charity for two family holidays that he took in 2017, adding fuel to the ongoing WE Charity scandal.
WE Charity partly paid for the $52,000 holidays — the first to Kenya, and the second one to Ecuador — which involved Morneau's wife and two daughters.
During his testimony before the House of Commons Finance Committee, Morneau said that it was with "surprise" that he discovered outstanding expenses for aspects of the trip that his family had not paid for. He has since covered the outstanding amount.
.@Bill_Morneau says he wrote a $41K cheque to WE today for expenses related to his family's trips with WE. “I had expected & always had intended to pay the full cost of these trips… not doing so, even unknowingly, is not appropriate. I want to apologize for this error,” he said pic.twitter.com/BPEoD6zY0B— Power & Politics (@PnPCBC) July 22, 2020
"I expected and always had intended to pay the full cost of these trips, and it was my responsibility to make sure that was done, not doing so, even unknowingly is not appropriate," Morneau said during his testimony.
Morneau apologized for not paying for the trip through private means.
"The error this time, even though I was not traveling in my role as minister, should not have happened," he said.
The news comes just over a week after Morneau apologized for not recusing himself from the discussions on the multi-million WE Charity contract.
My statement on the administration of the Canada Student Service Grant: pic.twitter.com/kPbjp8kiaU— Bill Morneau (@Bill_Morneau) July 13, 2020
Morneau has several other ties to WE Charity; his daughter, Clare, has spoken at WE Charity events and his wife has made two $50,000 donations to the organization in recent years (April 2018 and June 2020, respectively).
Some Canadians have reacted to Morneau's statement with incredulity and suspicion, given the large amount of funds.
"Morneau claims he did not know that WE had given him $41,000 in wine, meals, accommodation, travel, and other benefits on his exotic Ecuadorian vacation," a Carleton MP wrote. "Who did he think was paying for it all? Did he think the luxuries fell on him from the sky?"
"If the Finance Minister does not resign then he should be fired," Conservative party leader candidate Peter MacKay wrote. "Accepting such a $41,000 gift would be a firing offence in every organization in Canada… except for the Liberal Party."
Also, I'm sorry, but it's just SO IMPLAUSIBLE that you took a *family trip* to "check out" WE's operations, and that they paid for it but you always intended to pay for it yourself, and thankfully the current scandal reminded you.— Emmett Macfarlane (@EmmMacfarlane) July 22, 2020
Both Morneau and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are currently being investigated by the federal ethics commissioner for their involvement in the cabinet decision to select WE Charity to run the Canada Student Service Grant, given their close ties to the charity.
Trudeau announced on Wednesday that he will also appear before the House committee to answer questions relating to awarding the multi-million dollar contract to WE Charity.
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