The WE Charity scandal is typical Justin Trudeau, whose major activity in Canada was holding motivational and fund-raising rallies for overseas children's development programs, was chosen to operate the Canada Student Service Grant (CSSG), a $912-million program to give grants to post-secondary students and recent graduates who volunteer in activities related to the covid-19 pandemic.
WE Charity was set to receive up to $43 Million in administrative fees to run the grant and was given this contract without a bidding process. This despite the fact that such an operation was well within the capabilities of the existing federal government civil service.
Trudeau and Finance Minister Bill Morneau were facing conflict-of-interest investigations for failing to recuse themselves from a decision to award WE Charity Foundation a sole-sourced contract to administer the student volunteer program.
WE had very close ties to the Trudeau family, as well as to many members of the Liberal cabinet and high-ranking staff. Among other connections, the Prime Minister's wife is a "WE Ambassador", while his brother and mother have both spoken at WE events.
Finance Minister Bill Morneau's daughter was employed by the charity, while a book written by another one of his daughters was promoted by WE. In addition to this, WE Charity provided a $41,000 vacation to the Finance Minister which he only paid back this week, long after he had failed to recuse himself.
WE initially refused to confirm if Trudeau's family members had been paid for speaking, but media reports quickly uncovered nearly $300,000 in payments to his mother and brother for speaking engagements, this despite WE's standard policy of not paying their speakers.
The contract was not given to WE Charity itself, as the Prime Minister said, but rather the WE Charity Foundation, the real-estate arm of WE Charity, which has no charitable record to speak of. Its only significance is that it holds tens of millions in real estate.
Intelligence Canada gave the charity one star out of five for its high
administration costs and low results for its donations. A Bloomberg Businessweek investigation in the
Trudeau prorogued Parliament in 2020, instantly dissolving a probe into the WE Charity scandal.