#CanadaLiberals; #WECharity; #Conservatives; #ViolationOfEthics
Ottawa, Jul 23 (Canadian-Media): Canada's Finance Minister Bill Morneau was asked by the Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre to resign after Morneau told Members of Parliament (MPs) in a Commons finance committee meeting on July 22 that he had repaid $41,000 to cover travel expenses spent by the WE organization to cover expenses of two 2017 trips his family took with the organization.
Conservative ethics critic Michael Barrett said it's well known that public office holders can't accept free travel from a third party and added it was an act of "extreme arrogance" for Morneau to cut a cheque to cover the expenses on July 22 when he was set to testify before the committee on the WE grants scandal.
"Minister, you've lost the moral authority to hold your office," said Barrett
Barrett had sent a letter to the ethics commissioner Mario Dion, asking for another probe of Morneau after the minister revealed on July 22 that WE Charity covered $41,000 in travel costs for him and his family in 2017.
He said most Canadians would notice if they hadn't been billed for tens of thousands of dollars worth of travel to Kenya and Ecuador.
"I expected and always had intended to pay the full cost of these trips, and it was my responsibility to make sure that was done," Morneau told MPs on the committee on July 22. "Not doing so, even unknowingly, is not appropriate. I want to apologize for this error on my part."
Morneau also said that in support of charitable organization's work with students in Canada and for COVID-19 relief in Kenya, respectively, his family has made two donations totalling $100,000 to the We Charity.
"The work that WE and organizations like them do is important to me," Morneau said.
Liberal government's decision to give sole responsibility for the multi-million-dollar contract to administer the summer student grants program to WE Charity has been widely criticized after it became known that the organization has paid Trudeau's mother and brother hundreds of thousands of dollars for their speeches, and that Morneau's daughter is employed by WE's travel division.
Both Morneau and Trudeau are being investigated by the federal ethics watchdog for possible violations of conflict of interest rules.
Poilievre said yesterday that it is hard for the Canadians to believe that Morneau, being cabinet minister, forbidden from accepting such a benefit, didn't know about thousands of dollars of travel expenses the organization covered.