we charity

Justin Trudeau apologizes for WE Charity scandal

Canadian charity WE — and its connections to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his family — has been the talk of the country over the past ten days, and the PM has finally now spoken out about the scandal.

The organization was due to help administer nearly one billion dollars of federal funds through the Canada Student Service Grant, which offers up to $5,000 each to post-secondary students for doing volunteer work during a time when finding a job may be a struggle as the economy slowly recovers from the pandemic.

But WE, which Trudeau called "the only" organization capable of handling such a large program, backed out at the last minute to avoid scrutiny after members of Trudeau's family were found to have done paid work for it.

In his media briefing on Monday, Trudeau acknowledged the involvement that he, his mother, his brother and his wife have had with the organization, and apologized for the conflict of interest posed by him tapping the charity to administer the grant.

"I know there are many questions and problems with the way this program was run about, and I know people have concerns about it. I get that," he said. "I made a mistake in not recusing myself from the discussions [of who should administer the grant] given my family's history [with WE] and I'm sincerely sorry."

He also touched on how the program has now had to be put on hold as a result of the drama, adding that he is"particularly sorry because not only has it created unnecessary issues, but it also means that young people who are facing a difficult time right now getting summer jobs and contributing to their communities are going to have to wait a little longer before getting those opportunities to serve."

The PM clarified that he did know about his various family members' ties to the charity, but was unaware of "the details of their renumeration."

"The mistake that we made was on me, and I take responsibility for it."

Conservative politicians are among those calling for a criminal investigation into the incident, calling it a violation of a section of the criminal code titled "frauds on government."

Many are wary of the fact that that WE was due to receive at least $19.5 million from Ottawa for their work with the program, and also of the fact that Trudeau's family received hundreds of thousands of dollars from WE over the years for speaking engagements.

Two daughters of Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau have also been revealed to have links to the charity — one was a one-time speaker, and another is a current employee.

Because of the controversy, Trudeau is now facing the third potential federal ethics violation of his tenure as prime minister.

Meanwhile, WE is coming under fire for alleged (unrelated) instances of racism and abuse of power, brought forward by a number of former employees.

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