Politics

CBC Radio's The House: Could WE take down the government?

On this week’s show: The CBC’s Rosemary Barton and the Toronto Star’s Susan Delacourt weigh in on what the WE Charity controversy means for the Liberal government. Plus, a member of the Prime Minister’s Youth Council discusses why he didn't participate in an advisory board for the project. Then, two experts offer their takes on economic recovery; an extremism expert talks about the risk of violence after an armed man breached the gates of Rideau Hall; and Conservative leadership candidate Derek Sloan shares his views on social conservatism and party unity.

Here is what’s on this week’s episode of The House

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau waves to the audience as he appears on stage during WE Day UN in New York City in 2017. Trudeau's ties to the WE organization have cast a shadow on the Liberal government and its decision to choose the WE Charity to administer grants for student volunteer work this summer. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)
Listen to the full episode47:33

PM Youth Council member: 'I decided not to get too close to that initiative'

The government's Canada Student Service Grant (CSSG), which was meant to be administered through the We Charity, has been put on pause in response to an ethics probe into the Liberal government's decision to outsource the program to an organization with ties to the Trudeau family.

"The student service grant would have been a really good opportunity for [students] to give back to the community, but to also earn some money for school," said Alfred Burgesson, a 23-year-old member of the Prime Minister's Youth Council who also works in youth employment.

Burgesson was asked to serve on an advisory board for the student grant project. He told The House that while he had positive experiences with the organization, he turned down the offer. 

Alfred Burgesson, left, is a member of the prime minister's Youth Council who says he has heard conflicting messages about the WE organization in the past. (Lumi Studios Media)

"I have not come across many people who've had great things to say about their experience with WE, so as a youth service provider, I decided not to get too close to that initiative," he said.

Aside from the fallout from the CCSG, the COVID-19 pandemic has been especially hard on young Canadians and their careers.

Burgesson spoke to The House about some of those challenges, what the federal government should do to help, and how Ottawa should do more to combat racism.

The Prime Minister’s Youth Council member talks about the burden the COVID-19 pandemic is placing on young people — including those who may have hoped to participate in the Canada Student Service Grant, a program now on pause following the WE Charity controversy. 8:57

What does WE mean for the prime minister's future?

The ongoing controversy over the WE organization has become a growing thorn in the side of the Liberal government. The decision to give a sole-sourced contract to administer a program worth nearly $1 billion to an organization with links to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, his family and his government has exploded into a potential conflict of interest.

Federal Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion is looking into the matter. On Friday, the federal Conservatives called on the police to launch a criminal investigation.

To sort out what this means for the Liberal government going forward, guest host Catherine Cullen asks CBC chief political correspondent Rosemary Barton and Toronto Star political columnist Susan Delacourt for their views.

The CBC’s chief political correspondent and a Toronto Star political columnist discuss the impact of the WE controversy on the Liberal government. 8:49

Economic recovery from an unparalleled crisis

Finance Minister Bill Morneau tabled the government's fiscal snapshot this week, revealing that Canada's deficit is expected to hit a staggering $343 billion this year. 

That update was the first real glimpse of the federal government's finances since the pandemic brought much of the country's economy to a halt and the government began shelling out billions in emergency aid.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau answers a question about the federal government's fiscal snapshot in the House of Commons on Wednesday. (Patrick Doyle/Reuters)

But the snapshot offered only a short-term look at Canada's future, and any plans for an economic recovery remain unclear. The CBC's Catherine Cullen talks to economist Armine Yalnizyan and Business Council of Canada president Goldy Hyder for their take on how Canada should navigate a recovery from a crisis unlike any other.

Economist Armine Yalnizyan and president of the Business Council of Canada Goldy Hyder discuss the fiscal update delivered by the federal government this week and how Canada might chart a path to economic recovery. 8:52

The state of extremism in Canada

When a heavily armed man gained entry into the grounds of Rideau Hall last week, it triggered questions about the level of frustration — and extremism — in this country.

On Parliament Hill, Canada Day was marked by demonstrations organized by an array of groups, including anti-lockdown and pro-gun activists.

CBC Radio's The House speaks to far-right extremism expert Barbara Perry about how the COVID-19 pandemic is being viewed and exploited by such groups.

An expert on far-right extremist groups talks about the risk of political violence in Canada and how COVID-19 has invigorated extremist movements both online and in the real world. 8:48

Conservative leadership candidate Derek Sloan

If everything had gone to plan, the Conservative Party would have elected a new leader by now. Instead, party members are receiving mail-in ballots this week, which they'll have to stamp and send off before Aug. 21.

First-time MP Derek Sloan is one of the names on those ballots. He's one of two social conservatives in the race and made headlines earlier this year with controversial comments about Canada's Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam.

Conservative Party of Canada leadership candidate Derek Sloan makes his opening statement at the start of the French Leadership Debate in Toronto in June. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press)

Sloan talks about his stance on immigration and abortion, his criticism of China's handling of the COVID-19 crisis and his opposition to a mandatory vaccine policy.

The first-time MP and leadership hopeful discusses his views on immigration, abortion, the COVID-19 pandemic and Conservative Party unity. 9:22

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