Politics

Cabinet ministers to appear at House of Commons committee investigating WE Charity deal

Two Liberal cabinet ministers will appear next week before a House of Commons committee investigating the government's decision to have the WE Charity administer its now-aborted student volunteer program.

Carla Qualtrough and Mary Ng to testify about their role in choosing WE to administer youth volunteer program

Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion Carla Qualtrough, left, and Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade Mary Ng, right, have been called as witnesses by the House of Commons Finance committee probing the federal government's selection of WE Charity to administer a student grant program. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Two Liberal cabinet ministers will appear next week before a House of Commons committee investigating the government's decision to have the WE Charity administer its now-aborted student volunteer program.

Minister of Employment Carla Qualtrough and Minister of Small Business Mary Ng both have appeared on the notice of Wednesday's meeting of the finance committee, which was posted on Friday. They are each scheduled to speak for one hour.

Benoît Robidoux, the associate deputy minister at the Department of Employment and Social Development, is also scheduled to appear.

The government has been embroiled in controversy ever since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that WE would administer the Canada Student Service Grant (CSSG) in June. The program was meant to provide eligible students with grants of up to $5,000 in exchange for volunteer service.

The sole-sourced agreement with WE was to pay one of its foundations up to $43.5 million to administer the program, for which the government budgeted $912 million. 

WE withdrew from the agreement amid a public outcry over the organization's ties to Trudeau and members of his family, who have received speaking fees from the group totalling more than $500,000. 

Opposition politicians have accused Trudeau and Finance Minister Bill Morneau of being in a conflict of interest by participating in the cabinet decision to have WE Charity administer the student grants. 

Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion is investigating Trudeau and Morneau for possible violations of the Conflict of Interest Act.

Both Trudeau and Morneau — whose family also has ties to WE — have apologized for not recusing themselves.

With files from The Canadian Press

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