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In today's Morning Brief, we look at the Conservative Party's calls for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Finance Minister Bill Morneau to testify before a parliamentary committee looking into a now-cancelled contract awarded to the WE Charity.

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Conservatives call on Trudeau to appear before committee studying WE controversy

Opposition Conservatives are demanding that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau testify before the House of Commons finance committee as it prepares to study how much the government spent in awarding a now-cancelled contract to the WE Charity.

"I will be adding Justin Trudeau's name to the list of witnesses. I will be calling on him to appear and testify under oath before being sworn in," Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre said Sunday. "Normally, prime ministers don't appear before parliamentary committees, but these are not normal times." 

The Liberal government is under fire for its decision to award a $19.5 million sole-sourced contract to WE Charity, a partnership that would have seen the organization administer more than $900 million for student work this summer under the Canada student service grant (CSSG). 

Poilievre said he would also be adding Finance Minister Bill Morneau to the witness list, given that both he and Trudeau have ties to the WE organization and did not recuse themselves from cabinet discussions about the contract.

If there is disagreement over Trudeau's willingness or ability to testify, Poilievre said, his party would simply present a motion, which would require the support of other opposition parties. The NDP declined to answer whether it would back such a motion, but told CBC News that the party believes in "getting to the bottom of this, and the more answers we get (including from Trudeau and Morneau), the quicker we can get those answers for the Canadian public." Read more on this story here.

Gone up in flames

(Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports/Reuters)

National Hot Rod Association top fuel driver Kyle Wurtzel explodes an engine during qualifying for the E3 Spark Plugs Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway in Clermont, Ind., on Saturday. This was the first race back for the NHRA since the start of the COVID-19 global pandemic. 

In brief

The director general for Global Affairs Canada in South Asia says disclosing sensitive information from CSIS to Meng Wanzhou as part of her battle against extradition could risk Canadian lives, further damage Chinese-Canadian relations and even compromise the fight against COVID-19. David Hartman warned against giving the Huawei executive's lawyers unredacted copies of documents from Canada's spy agency in an affidavit sworn as part of a proceeding that will be heard in federal court later this month. The affidavit was filed in late June in support of the attorney general, who is fighting to keep from public view communication about Meng's arrest between CSIS and the FBI. "Generally speaking, such disclosure would inflame tensions between the governments of Canada and China, and would, necessarily, provoke a response harmful to bilateral relations and Canadian interests," Hartman's affidavit says. Read more on this story here

Quebec police, with the help of Canadian soldiers, continued searching a heavily wooded area southwest of Quebec City on Sunday for a 44-year-old man whose two daughters were declared dead the previous day. Martin Carpentier has been on the run since Wednesday, when he was last seen with Norah, 11, and Romy, 6. His car, badly damaged and abandoned, was found about an hour after that last sighting. An Amber Alert, the longest in Quebec's history, ended when the bodies of the two girls were discovered in a forest near Saint-Apollinaire, Que. They were taken to hospital and later declared dead. Police are focusing their search inside a 10-kilometre-radius perimeter in the Saint-Agapit—Saint-Apollinaire area. A resident reported seeing Carpentier in the area on Saturday afternoon. Read more about the hunt for the father.

Watch | Manhunt continues for father of two girls found dead in Quebec:



Ontario Premier Doug Ford is expected to reveal details of the province's Stage 3 opening today during his daily news briefing. Last week, CBC News reported the province could potentially be heading into the third stage of reopening as Ontario's cases have seen a steady decline. At the time, Ford held back on offering any specifics of which restrictions may be loosened in the next stage. However, the province's reopening plan released back in April suggests Stage 3 includes opening "all workplaces responsibly" and "further relaxing restrictions on public gatherings." Large public gatherings, like concerts and sporting events, will continue to "be restricted for the foreseeable future" and physical distancing and hand hygiene guidelines will remain. Ontario's social gathering maximum number of 10 people is expected to be widened but it's still unclear to how many. Read more about today's expected announcement here.

Inuit in Nunavut are dying during interactions with police at a rate significantly higher than in Yukon, Northwest Territories and Ontario, according to data collected and analyzed by CBC and a statistical expert in criminology. That trend is especially apparent since 2010, with a rate of police-related deaths in Nunavut more than 14 times higher than both Yukon and Ontario and more than three times higher than the Northwest Territories. Police-related deaths in this story refer to deaths in police custody, detention or during or after interacting with police. "What the statistics show in this case is that it's pretty unlikely that this is a chance phenomenon," Anthony Doob, a professor emeritus of criminology at the University of Toronto with 40 years' experience analyzing crime statistics, told CBC News. "It looks like there's something systematic here." Read more here about the territory's rate of police-related deaths.

Reports of online sexual exploitation of Canadian children have soared during the COVID-19 pandemic as abusers take advantage of the fact that kids are spending more time online. Stephen Sauer, director of Cybertip.ca, said his organization saw an 81 per cent spike over April, May and June in reports from youth who had been sexually exploited, and reports of people trying to sexually abuse children. "It seems to be an epidemic right now online," he said. Sgt. Arnold Guerin of the RCMP's National Child Exploitation Crime Centre, which co-ordinates investigations into child sexual exploitation online and child pornography, said his unit also has seen an increase in reports of sexual exploitation of children. Read more on this story here.

Now for some good news to start your Monday: Manitoba gardeners say the COVID-19 pandemic brought a groundswell of interest from younger gardeners that has the gardening community blossoming. "We've seen a huge spike in interest from new gardeners, and this goes right back to March," said Dave Hanson, co-owner of Winnipeg's Sage Garden Greenhouse. "This absolutely coincided with the beginning of a real sense of urgency around the COVID-19 situation in Canada." As COVID-19 case numbers grew and public health restrictions were imposed across the country, Hanson and other experts say everything from seed and plant sales to volunteer numbers at local gardening groups have spiked. "[It's been] incredible," said Kevin Twomey, general manager of T&T Seeds in Headingley, Man. His business's seed sales are up 50 per cent — more than 10,000 sales — across the board over last year, he said. Read more here about the gardening boom.

Front Burner: Trudeau's WE Charity controversy deepens, and deficit 101

This is not your average quiet July in Ottawa. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is embroiled in a new ethics investigation, and now there are revelations about members of his family receiving payment for their appearances at WE Charity events.  On top of that, the Liberal government released an "economic and fiscal snapshot" showing the federal government's deficit hitting an unprecedented $343 billion this year. 

Today on Front Burner, CBC parliamentary reporter J.P. Tasker updates us on the latest in the Trudeau WE Charity controversy, and gives a back-to-basics explainer of the deficit.

Today in history: July 13

1837: Queen Victoria becomes the first monarch to move into Buckingham Palace.

1953: The Stratford Festival is launched at Stratford, Ont. The first season featured two Shakespearean plays — Richard III, starring Alec Guinness, and All's Well That Ends Well.

1961: James Coyne resigns as governor of the Bank of Canada because of a controversy over his refusal to adopt the Diefenbaker government's expansionist monetary policies. Coyne resigned only after the Senate blocked a government bill to fire him.

2005: NHL players and owners reach an agreement in principle to end a 10-month lockout, the longest labour dispute in professional sports history. It officially ended on July 22 after the players and owners ratified the contract, with the players agreeing to a salary cap.

2005: Edmonton-born Bernard Ebbers, who as CEO of WorldCom Inc. oversaw a corporate accounting fraud that grew to $11 billion US, is sentenced to 25 years in prison. He was released in December 2019 due to health reasons. He died on Feb. 2, 2020.

With files from The Canadian Press, The Associated Press and Reuters

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