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Just like the scorpion in Aesop's Fable, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau can't seem to help himself. It's in his nature to use the power of his office to enrich himself, reward his friends, and punish his critics.
Over the past five years, Justin Trudeau has abused his power, bent the law for his friends, attempted to silence his critics and destroyed their reputations. While everyday Canadians have fallen through the cracks, he's moved heaven and earth to help his powerful and politically connected friends get ahead. Twelve million dollars for Loblaws or $50 million for Mastercard? No problem! A back-to-work bonus to make the Canada Emergency Response Benefit more flexible and generous to help Canadian workers and small businesses? No way!
Trudeau is the only Prime Minister in Canadian history to be found guilty of breaking ethics laws. The first time it was for accepting a paid vacation on a luxury island from someone lobbying his government. The second was for using his authority and that of his office to "circumvent, undermine, and ultimately discredit" former Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould during the SNC-Lavalin corruption scandal.
Now he's under investigation for the third time in three years. This time it is for handing a massive $900 million contract to an organization which paid his family over $300,000. The Trudeaus have appeared at, participated in, and financially benefited from dozens of WE events since Justin Trudeau became Prime Minister. Each time they appeared they were given a platform to promote their personal brand and the Liberal Party’s policies. Meanwhile, WE has received multiple sole-sourced government contracts. The latest is worth almost a billion dollars! You'll forgive me if I don't take Trudeau's word that it's all above board. Almost a billion dollars, no competition, no oversight and no accountability—it stinks.
Since the Liberals announced the student grant program several weeks ago, Canadians have repeatedly been told that the organization was the "best and only organization able to deliver" it. Clearly, that's not true, since after they were forced to call off the scandalous deal, the Trudeau government now plans to deliver the program. An apology won't make this all go away.
I don't believe for one minute that it's a coincidence that after Conservatives demanded an investigation, the contract was suddenly cancelled. The question is, what is Justin Trudeau trying to hide? To get answers, Conservatives have called for a criminal investigation into Justin Trudeau's $900 million scandal, sent a letter to the Ethics Commissioner asking for an investigation into Justin Trudeau and Bill Morneau's involvement, asked the auditor general and the procurement ombudsman to look into the awarding of the sole-source contract, and have called for Parliament to investigate the Liberal government's involvement in this scandal.
Throughout the pandemic, Canadians have pulled together to support one another. Conservatives have been focused on getting you the help you need. But Justin Trudeau has repeatedly tried to use the public health crisis to grab and consolidate power.
When Trudeau shamefully tried to give himself the power to raise taxes, debt and spending without parliamentary approval until 2022, Conservatives stopped him. When he tried to avoid accountability, we required transparency. When he tried to ram through flawed legislation, we made improvements. When his programs let Canadians down, we proposed constructive solutions to help. And when he shamefully shut down Parliament until at least the fall, we were the only party to stand up for democracy.
No government should use a crisis to try to effectively shut down democracy or take away hard-won rights or freedoms. But that's exactly what the Trudeau government has done over the past four months. Trudeau is racking up massive deficits, he refuses to be transparent, and he's made it clear that he prefers press conferences to Parliament.
He wants an audience, not an Opposition. But that's not surprising, since just like the scorpion, it's in his nature.
Michael Barrett is the Conservative Party's Ethics Critic and the Member of Parliament for Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes.