Government records show that the federal government has supplied WE charity—a charity with connections to the Trudeau family—a number of sole-sourced contracts in recent years. These contracts are given directly to a supplier of the governments choosing instead of being competitively bid on, reports the National Post.
After being criticized for handing another contract off to the organization, Trudeau responded saying that the charity was the only one “capable of networking and organizing and delivering this program on the scale that we needed it…”
The charity has recently been chosen to receive millions from the government in order to run a student volunteer program. The program—worth $900 million—has been outsourced to WE Charity, which will be receiving $19.5 million or more in fees.
Government records show that since March 2017, five federal contracts have been handed over to WE Charity. Together, the contracts are worth $120,000 and the charity has received the majority of them within 15 months—the most recent being far larger than the others.
Nora Loreto, an activist and writer, was the first to point out the specific placing of funds which have been provided for fairly unclear services including, “Public relations services,” “Management consulting” and also, “Other professional services not otherwise specified.”
Trudeau told reporters on Monday that the agreement was not anything out of the ordinary.
“The Government of Canada has extensive practice of working with third parties, charities, to deliver programs. When we wanted to move forward to help various food banks across the country, we worked with the charity Food Banks Canada in order to deliver the program. When we wanted to help grassroots community organizations, we worked with United Way in order to deliver that program,” he said.
The charity received the contract shortly after Craig Kielburger, one of the charity’s co-founders published an opinion piece calling for the Canadian government to bail out charities in a similar manner as they do the private industry.
“More than just keeping organizations afloat, government support conveys social value. What we chose to bailout represents what we believe should survive,” wrote Kielburger.
Federal departments have also provided the charity with contributions and grants reaching close to $5.2 million beginning in 2017.
“What’s really concerning about these sole source contracts is that it’s the oldest game in Ottawa, the nudge-nudge, wink-wink of putting out contracts just below the threshold to have them put out to the public. And those are the contracts that tend to be given to someone who ran your campaign, someone who was involved with you at the party level,” said Charlie Angus, NDP’s ethics critic when speaking to the National Post.
Democracy Watch co-founder Duff Conacher said, “What I find suspect is that the amounts are very large for charities, and the pattern of it suddenly happening after the Liberals are elected, with the spouse of the prime minister being a high-ranking volunteer.”
“That can easily turn merit-based contracting and granting decision-making processes into a ‘who-you-know’ process where the charities that know the prime minister and who are associated with the Prime Minister’s family are the ones that get favoured. It’s illegal, and for good reason,”
“WE (Charity) made a transition from being a grassroots organization to being very, very tied to the Trudeau brand,” Angus said. “Then they go from having no contracts to suddenly getting a series of contracts handed to them. And then they get this $900 million program in the middle of a pandemic, with no history or no credible reason that they would be the obvious choice.”
Conacher plans to file a complaint about the move which will go to the federal ethics commissioner.
“The evidence is clear. It’s an entire waste of money and also a violation of federal ethics law,” he said.