EXCLUSIVE: Trudeau minister, chief of staff worked for group that supported Kielburger charity

The We Charity scandal continues to snowball after it was revealed today that Trudeau's Chief of Staff and minister worked with Free the Children.

Nico Johnson Montreal QC

The We Charity scandal continues to snowball after it was revealed today that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Chief of Staff Katie Telford co-founded a group that worked "in support" of Free the Children, which is a branch of the WE Charity.

As well as this, Trudeau's Minister of Natural Resources Seamus O'Regan served as the Honorary Chair of this organization, which was named Artbound.

Artbound's press release detailed O'Regan's role.

This group was established in 2010 and aimed to raise money to build an arts school in Kenya where the WE Charity has operations.

Telford denied that she had ever received money from the WE Charity or Artbound as a result of this role.

On Wednesday, the prime minister said that the decision to award the WE Charity a $900 million contract was made by cabinet rather than the civil service as he previously suggested.  

O'Regan is a cabinet minister, and it is unclear whether he recused himself from the decision to award the WE Charity this contract due to his connections with the organization.

If O'Regan was apart of the decision to award the WE Charity this contract, it may be perceived as a conflict of interest. O'Regan became was elected as a member of parliament in 2015.

Minister O'Regan did not respond to The Post Millennial's questions over whether he received money from the WE Charity and whether he recused himself from the cabinet's decision to award the WE Charity a contract.

Speaking to The Post Millennial, the Conservative Ethics Critic Michael Barrett said that "whether it's the chief of staff to the prime minister, ministers of the crown or the minister himself, anyone who has a relationship with an organization has an obligation to recuse themselves from any discussion when it comes to that organization."

"This is exactly the type of scenario that the act was designed to deal with. Public office holders have a duty to Canadians, and it's to ensure that they avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest."

This is not the first time O'Regan has been wrapped up in a Trudeau scandal. In 2016, O'Regan accompanied the prime minister to Aga Khan's island in the Caribbean which later resulted in Trudeau's first ethics violation.

The Liberal's connections to the WE Charity have been receiving a significant amount of attention over the last few days. On Thursday, the WE Charity admitted that Justin Trudeau's mother and his brother received large sums of money from their organization as honorariums for speaking.

The prime minister's wife, Sophie, also hosts a podcast for the WE Charity and received $1400 for an engagement.

One of the WE Charity's co-founders also donated to Justin Trudeau's Liberal leadership campaign in 2013.

The Ethics Commissioner is currently investigating the Trudeau government as a result of this contract. If found guilty, Trudeau will have three ethics violations.


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