Politics

Conservatives want anti-corruption committee to probe WE Charity controversy

The federal Conservatives want MPs to create an anti-corruption committee to investigate the WE Charity issue.

Government focused on supporting Canadians through second wave of COVID-19 pandemic, Liberals say

Tory ethics critic Michael Barrett wants MPs to create an anti-corruption committee to investigate the WE Charity issue. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

The federal Conservatives want MPs to create an anti-corruption committee to investigate the WE Charity issue.

Tory ethics critic Michael Barrett says the new forum would press for answers to lingering questions about the controversy.

In the meantime, the Conservatives plan to press the House of Commons ethics and finance committees this week to resume looking at the matter.

They say the proposed new anti-corruption committee could soon take over the probe of the Liberal government's choice of WE Charity to administer the the multimillion-dollar Canada Student Service Grant program.

Opposition MPs have been grilling the government for months over the now-abandoned program because of WE Charity's close connections to the families of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Bill Morneau, the recently departed finance minister.

The Liberals have consistently said it was federal public servants who recommended the grant program be administered by the youth group, but the Conservatives say there are still unanswered questions.

"Canadians deserve answers," Barrett told a news conference Monday. "We deserve accountability."

Government focused on COVID-19, Liberals say

The office of Liberal House leader Pablo Rodriguez noted that Trudeau, his chief of staff, the clerk of the Privy Council and various public servants already have appeared at committee.

The government will remain focused on protecting the health and safety of the public, the office said, adding: "Canadians deserve better than the Conservatives' partisan games."

At a news conference today, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau didn't say whether he would support the creation of such a committee. Instead, he suggested that the Liberal government will continue to allow committees to do their work independently while his remains focused on assisting Canadians through the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We are entirely focused on the second wave of COVID-19. We are working to support Canadians, to support workers, to support families, to support small businesses," Trudeau said. "The Conservatives continue to want to focus on WE Charity. So be it."

Trudeau noted that the federal government released thousands of pages of documents about the grant program.

The Conservatives have vowed to continue probing the arrangement as well as the Trudeau family's links to WE at the federal ethics and finance committees if the anti-corruption committee is not created.

With files from CBC News

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