WE Charity spent nearly $20,000 hosting Sophie Trudeau at an event in Britain a month before cabinet aides began negotiating terms of what became a $43.5 million federal grant to the charity. According to records, it was the costliest of eight WE Charity appearances by the prime minister's wife.
WE Charity in accounts submitted to the Commons ethics committee disclosed expenses for Sophie to attend a March 4, 2020 rally in London. Costs totalled $19,752, including $18,135 in business-class flights for her and her daughter and $1,617 for hotels, reported Blacklock's. Expenses for meals and taxis were not disclosed.
Sophie contracted COVID at the event. The prime minister subsequently went into self-isolation on her return.
The event occurred just a week before the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic. The London appearance was the costliest of eight WE Charity events attended by the prime minister's wife from 2012 to 2020.
The prime minister’s mother, Margaret, also attended the event though her expenses were not detailed. WE Charity awarded a total of $481,751 in fees, gifts and expense-paid trips to members of the Trudeau family.
"Everybody knew Sophie Gregoire Trudeau had been in London with WE Charity," said Green MP Elizabeth May as part of the Commons ethics committee. "The only question is whether her way was paid there. She got COVID from attending the WE Charity event in March. We all know this."
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, on July 30, 2020, testified at the Commons finance committee and said he "knew that my brother and mother had worked with WE Charity" but was unaware of details. "I did not know how much work either of them had done with WE Charity or how much they had been paid," testified Trudeau.
WE Charity co-founder Craig Kielburger in earlier testimony at the finance committee denied the group sought favour with federal agencies by hosting Sophie in London. "I’ve never seen the Prime Minister or Sophie Gregoire Trudeau in a social setting," said Kielburger.
"Sophie Gregoire Trudeau is more than someone’s wife," he added. "We live, and we engage with individuals on the merit that they bring themselves as individuals."
The WE Charity grant was subsequently cancelled following disclosures of the Trudeau family payments. Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion, in a May 13 Trudeau III Report, said the dealings "give rise to a strong appearance of conflict" but did not breach the Conflict Of Interest Act.