WE Charity Would Not Get ‘Financial Gain’ From Controversial Scholarship Program: Kielburgers – National


The founders of the controversial WE Charity, Craig and Marc Kielburger, championed what they saw as the good intentions behind a sole-source contract for their group to administer a closely-valued federal student services scholarship program. a billion dollars.The two spoke on Tuesday as part of the House of Commons finance committee hearings into the WE charity scandal, which seeks to determine how an organization with close financial ties to prominent members of the government received a Sole Source contract to manage the Canada Student Services Grant. .

READ MORE: WE charity grant agreement plans to spend about half of pledged amount, documents say

The administration of this program would have enabled the organization to receive some 43 million dollars.

He has already received around $ 30 million of that amount, but says he will repay the amount in full.

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The brothers said the money would be used to cover expenses incurred in setting up the program and not as a benefit to themselves and their organization. They added that by returning the money they have received so far, the group will be out of around $ 5 million.

“Some have suggested that WE Charity was in a difficult financial situation before CSSG and that this motivated our actions. It’s just not true, ”said Craig Kielburger.

“Because, like many Canadian businesses and nonprofits, we had already taken difficult steps to adjust staffing levels and adapt our programs to the new realities of COVID.

“As per the contribution agreement, WE Charity would only be reimbursed for its costs of building and administering the program,” he also said.

“To be clear, there was no financial benefit to the charity. WE Charity would not have received any financial gain from the CSSG program and it is wrong to say otherwise.

READ MORE: A timeline of key WE charity events, the Trudeau controversy

Former WE board chair Michelle Douglas also testified on Tuesday and said in her opening statement that WE co-founder Craig Kielburger asked her to step down on March 25 after she and other board members have asked WE executives to hand over financial documents to justify the massive layoffs during the coronavirus. pandemic.

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“I quit because I couldn’t do my job. I could not fulfill my governance duties, ”she said. “We were of the opinion that you could not fire hundreds of people without very strong demonstrable evidence and even then you should consider mitigating measures to save jobs.

“Instead, the management team was laying off employees very quickly and in large numbers.”

She detailed a dramatic phone call on March 23 where she asked WE executives to hand over the financial statements.

“I demanded that the executive produce these records,” said Douglas. “I will just say that the appeal was abruptly concluded. “

Former WE Charity Board Speakers “Always Get It” Weren’t Paid for WE Day: Douglas

Former WE Charity Board Speakers “Always Get It” Weren’t Paid for WE Day: Douglas

She also said board members understood that “speakers are not paid by the charity or related organizations to speak at WE Days.”

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This seems to contradict reports in recent weeks that the WE charity has paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in speaking fees to members of the Trudeau family.

Douglas, a former human rights activist and former military official, also said members of WE’s board of directors had concerns with the newly formed WE Charity Foundation.

Global News first announced that the CSSG deal was with a separate entity called the WE Charity Foundation, which only received charitable status in 2019 and whose stated purpose was to “hold real estate”.

“The board was never convinced that the operation of this foundation was in the best interest of the charity or its various stakeholders, to my knowledge, it was not in operation when I left the board. Douglas said.

“We didn’t have enough information,” she said. “Frankly thinking of all the young people who had done fundraising and who wanted to understand in a matter that was perfectly clear, why such a foundation would exist.

“In the end, there was no resolution.”

WE Charity has previously said it has decided to make the Foundation the “contracting party” with the government on the advice of its lawyers because of concerns about legal liabilities arising from the federal student program.

“The use of multiple corporate entities to isolate responsibilities for particular projects is not uncommon,” the charity said in a statement.

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The Kielburgers were repeatedly pressed during the hearing on this corporate structure and insisted they were using the WE Charity Foundation because the government contract required them to take full legal responsibility for the program in order to administer it.

“The Government of Canada has asked us to take massive liability,” said Marc Kielburger, adding that the use of the entity was intended to “limit liability”.

The brothers also defended their decisions not to register as lobbyists and insisted their organization did not meet the legal definition of lobbying, even though it had paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in lobbying fees. word to members of Trudeau’s family and had hired Morneau’s daughter.

“These things, I don’t believe, are actually defined as lobbying,” Marc Kielburger said.

Craig Kielburger added that Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe also visited the organization’s facilities in Kenya during the winter, and said the children of NDP MP Charlie Angus took part in trips work organized by the group in Nicaragua.

WE scandal: co-founders Craig and Marc Kielburger defend against accepting scholarship program

WE scandal: co-founders Craig and Marc Kielburger defend against accepting scholarship program

WE Charity had previously confirmed that the Prime Minister’s mother, Margaret Trudeau, was paid around $ 250,000 for speaking at 28 events by Me to WE, the for-profit arm of the charity, while her Brother Alexander (often referred to as Sacha) spoke at eight events and received approximately $ 32,000.

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MPs repeatedly asked Craig Kielburger what qualifications these people had as speakers apart from their names and high profile connections.

He said it was “lived experience” that made people like Margaret Trudeau seen as guests worth paying, and insisted that payments were not made for them. time on stage during WE Day events, but rather for what the brethren described as “side” events. like receptions.

Craig and Marc Kielburger admitted that WE also paid around $ 64,000 for Margaret Trudeau and none of Alexander’s expenses.

Sophie Grégoire Trudeau attended seven WE events over the course of three years and was reimbursed an average of $ 3,618 per event, according to testimony.

Craig Kielburger said a full cost breakdown would be available after their testimony.

Global News reached out to WE Charity for comment, who said a statement would be available later today on payments to the Trudeau family.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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