PM did not break ethics rules in WE Charity scandal, Morneau did: report

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PM did not break ethics rules in WE Charity scandal, Morneau did: report
PM did not break ethics rules in WE Charity scandal, Morneau did: report

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did not break federal ethics rules in what has become known as the WE Charity scandal — but his former finance minister, Bill Morneau, did.

Mario Dion, the conflict of interest and ethics commissioner, issued his reports into the conduct of both Trudeau and Morneau on Thursday and found that while Trudeau did not violate the rules, Morneau broke three provisions in the Conflict of Interest Act.

The reports, titled Trudeau III and Morneau II, mark the third time Trudeau has been investigated for accusations of breaking federal ethics rules since he became prime minister in 2015, and the second time for Morneau, who quit federal politics last year.

The first report looked at Trudeau’s vacation on the Aga Khan’s private Bahamian island, while the second probed accusations of political interference at the heart of the SNC-Lavalin scandal.

The prime minister was found to have broken the rules on those first two occasions, but not in relation to his family’s ties to the WE Charity.

“There was no opportunity to further Mr. Trudeau’s own interests or those of his relatives from WE’s role as administrator of the CSSG or from its Social Entrepreneurship proposal,” Dion said.

The CSSG refers to the Canadian Student Service Grant, the now-cancelled $912-million student program the government had selected WE Charity to administer last summer.

Trudeau’s mother and brother have financial ties to WE Charity and have been paid to appear at its events. Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau has also appeared at events and received payment for doing so before the Liberals formed government in 2015.

She has also had tens of thousands of dollars in expenses reimbursed for her appearances.

Dion said he found no evidence those ties and Trudeau’s handling of the file violated the rules.

“I am satisfied that there was no opportunity to further Mr. Trudeau’s own interests or those of his relatives from WE’s role as administrator of the CSSG or from its Social Entrepreneurship proposal,” he wrote, noting that federal rules apply only to actual conflicts of interest, not the appearance of them.

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