WECharity; #CanadaHousecommittee; #VolunteerStudentGrantProgram
Ottawa, Jul 28 (Canadian-Media): Craig Kielburger and Marc Kielburger, WE Charity founders' appearance before a House committee on July 28 to answer questions about the partnership they'd struck with the Liberal government to administer a $900-million student grant program, would risk the reputation of the charity they started, pollsters say, media reports said.
Canada's House of Commons. Image credit: Twitter handle
Formed in 1995 by the rights advocates the Kielburgers, WE Charity soon developed relationships with Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's family.
With businesses and charities already being hurt due to the pandemic, any threat to a charity's reputation can result in a crisis, said Shachi Kurl, executive director of the Angus Reid Institute. "This is already a tough year for charities in Canada. You don't want to be the tall poppy making headlines for the wrong reasons," she said, CBC News reported.
Trudeau family's close relationship with WE Charity came under scrutiny late last month when Trudeau granted the multi-million-dollar contract to the We Charity to administer the Canada Student Service Grant, providing eligible students with grants of up to $5,000 depending on how much time students spend doing volunteer work.
The controversy raised between WE and federal government with the revelations that Trudeau's wife Margaret was paid approximately $250,000 for speaking at 28 events, and Alexandre, Trudeau's brother, received about $32,000 for speaking at eight events raised made WE and the Liberals to part ways on July 3.
Trudeau is now the subject of an investigation by Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion, as is Finance Minister Bill Morneau.
Separate inquiries are being conducted by both the House of Commons finance and ethics committees. Trudeau and his chief of staff Katie Telford will appear before the finance committee on Thursday, when their testimony will be compared to that of the Kielburgers.
Due to the pandemic, there is already a heightened attention to news being followed by many people, said David Coletto, CEO of the polling firm Abacus Data and added,
"That raises the stakes for any organization that is in the crosshairs of opposition parties looking to inflict damage on a government, particularly one that has shown, whether actual or perceived, favour or [that] plays in the same playgrounds as Liberals, as the Kielburger brothers seem to have done," said Coletto. "It means that Conservative and New Democrat and Bloc MPs are not going to feel that they need to be soft on them. And so I think the scrutiny that this controversy has already brought to the organization will only get worse, potentially, unless the story somehow dies this week and everything sort of closes up, which I do not perceive happening," CBC News reported.