Canadian charity at center of Trudeau ethics probe

Margaret Trudeau, mother of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, attends a state dinner at the White House in Washington

The Canadian charity at the heart of a conflict-of-interest investigation into Justin Trudeau disclosed on Thursday that it had paid the Canadian prime minister’s mother and brother to speak at events it organized.

The WE Charity Canada statement confirmed an earlier report by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC).

The youth-focused charity said it paid honoraria to Trudeau’s mother, Margaret, amounting to C$250,000 ($184,000) for speaking at about 28 events, while his brother Alexandre spoke at eight events and received about C$32,000 ($23,540). The events took place between 2016 and 2020.

Last week, Canada’s ethics commissioner said he was investigating Trudeau for conflict of interest after his Liberal government awarded a sole-sourced, C$900 million ($662.9 million) government contract to WE Charity to administer a student grant program.

WE Charity said last week it would no longer manage the program.

“The Prime Minister’s relatives engage with a variety of organizations and support many personal causes on their own accord,” Justin Trudeau’s office said in a statement.

It is the third such probe the prime minister has faced.

The first investigation was in 2017 for accepting a vacation on the Aga Khan’s private island a year earlier, and the second, last year, was for seeking to influence a corporate legal case. He was admonished for breaching the rules in both previous cases.

The latest probe was requested by Canada’s main opposition Conservative Party.

“We know now that Justin Trudeau handed almost a billion-dollar contract to a charity that not only had close ties to the Liberal Party, but which paid his family almost $300,000,” Conservative lawmaker Michael Barrett said in a statement.

Both the prime minister and his wife, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, have regularly participated in WE Charity events. Gregoire Trudeau also hosts a podcast on the organization’s website.

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