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Alberta government drops sponsorship plans of scandal-plauged WE charity

Calling the scandal “shocking” Education Minister Adriana LaGrange on Friday said she had backed out of a three-year deal the provincial education department was about to sign with WE.

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Alberta’s UCP government is cutting ties with the WE charity, currently embroiled in nearly a $1 billion scandal involving Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Finance Minister Bill Morneau.

Calling the scandal “shocking” Education Minister Adriana LaGrange on Friday said she had backed out of a three-year deal the provincial education department was about to sign with WE.

In an interview with the Edmonton Sun’s Lorne Gunter, LaGrange said her staff was looking to sign a $750,000, three-year deal with WE to provide programming to Alberta students, including WE Day rallies.

LaGrange said she will also ask school boards in the province to review any involvement they have with WE, its co-founders Craig and Marc Kielburger and any of the charity’s affiliates.

Several other businesses have announced they are reviewing ties with WE, including RBC, Virgin airlines and the Globe and Mail.

It has emerged that members of Trudeau’s family – including his mother, brother and wife – have been paid handsomely for speaking at WE events.

Margaret Trudeau spoke at approximately 28 events and received honoraria amounting to $250,000. Alexandre spoke at eight events and received approximately $32,000, while Sophie Gregoire Trudeau had more than $1,400 in expenses paid for.

Just this week, Morneau paid back $41,000 to WE for an exotic family holiday in Kenya.

The ethics commissioner is investigating both Morneau and Trudeau for not recusing themselves during discussions about awarding WE a deal to run the government’s $912-million program that would pay students grants of up to $5,000 based on the hours they volunteer.

Both men have apologized.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter.com/nobby7694

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard. He has served as the City Editor of the Calgary Sun and has covered Alberta news for nearly 40 years. dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

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WE scandal: Trudeau says he had no clue how much his family was paid by WE charity

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said WE “received no preferential treatment.”

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he had no any how much his family was paid by the WE charity when he approved it for a nearly billion project.

Testifying from Rideau Cottage to a Senate inquiry on the WE scandal, Trudeau said he didn’t even realize the charity was in the running until he was told by “extremely professional” public affairs officials.

Trudeau testified he hoped to give the youth grant to the Canada Service Corps volunteer group but public service officials said they couldn’t do it and a third party was needed.

He said he didn’t hear about WE involvement until May 8, only hours before cabinet met to discuss the program.

Trudeau said because of his family connection to WE, the decision to give it the grant would be “closely scrutinized.”

Trudeau decided to pull the decision on May 8.

He said public officials later told him the WE group was the only group that was able to deliver the program so it was approved at the May 22 cabinet meeting.

Throwing the civil service under the bus was a reoccurring theme of Trudeau’s testimony.

Trudeau said WE “received no preferential treatment.

“I deeply regret how this has unfolded.”

In April, Trudeau announced a new program called the Canada Student Service Grant that promised to pay to students who volunteer over the summer.

Management of what was called $900-million program was outsourced to WE Charity. WE Charity would be paid up to $43 million to run the program.

After controversy erupted, the WE organization withdrew from the program.

Charity co-founder Craig Kielburger told MPs on Tuesday the amount of money involved was only $543 million. The charity has already received roughly $30 million of that but says it will repay the amount in full. They added the charity would be out $5 million they had already spent on the program.

The brothers denied they stood to personally benefit from the deal.

And they admitted they only hired the prime minister’s mother to speak on mental health when Justin Trudeau came to power.

It has emerged Margaret Trudeau spoke at approximately 28 WE events and received honoraria amounting to $312,000. Alexandre spoke at eight events and received approximately $32,000, while Sophie Gregoire Trudeau had more than $1,400 in expenses paid for.

 Margaret had also been paid $167,944 in expenses.

The PM testified Thursday he didn’t know the Kielburgers other than to to see them at the WE events he attended.

Under questioning by Tory MP Pierre Poilievre, Trudeau couldn’t provide figures on exactly how much his family made from WE nor the expenses paid to his wife for a trip to London a month before the final decision was made.

Trudeau said he didn’t even know what hotel in London his wife was staying in.

Poilievre told Trudeau: “Nobody believes you. You had a month to look into this.”

The meeting then degenerated into farce when the power went out for committee chair Wayne Easter.

That saw Poilievre saying he was now in charge of the hearing as the deputy chair.

He kept asking Trudeau how much his family his family made and the PM repeatedly refused to answer.

Liberal MPs then tried to shut down the meeting before Easter got his power back and order was restored.

Trudeau also said he had no idea WE fired their board chair and laid off hundreds of staff before they received the grant.

Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion has announced that his office is investigating.

Alberta’s UCP government has severed ties with the charity as has several businesses including Telus and Virgin Airlines

Just last week, Finance Minister Bill Morneau paid back $41,000 to WE for an exotic family holidays to Kenya and Ecuador.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter.com/nobby7694

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Poll shows MacKay as overwhelming choice for Tory voters

And Peter MacKay also lead a poll where other Canadians were asked about the leadership.

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Conservative voters say Peter MacKay is the right man to lead their party, according to a new poll.

The results of a survey conducted by Maru/Blue Public Opinion show MacKay would be the top choice – at 55 percent – to become the new leader of the Tory party among those who are committed to vote for the party if a federal election were held tomorrow.

As for rival candidates, Erin O’Toole received 23 per cent, Leslyn Lewis 11 per cent, and Derek Sloan 11 per cent.

And MacKay also lead a poll where other Canadians were asked about the leadership.

MacKay received 51 per cent supported followed by O’Toole at 25 per cent, Lewis 16 per cent and Sloan at 8 per cent.

“The presumption is that Peter MacKay is the front runner,” John Wright, the executive vice president at Maru/Blue Public Opinion North America told the National Post, who commissioned the survey.

“And a lot of that has to do with the fact that he’s got the most exposure. You look at the numbers regionally and he’s got a lot of good recognition.”

The 269,469 eligible Tory party members have until Aug. 21 to mail in their ballots. The numbers will be tallied and released at an undetermined time.

Courtesy The National Post

A total of 1,828 those who would consider voting for the Conservative Party of Canada if a federal
election were held tomorrow were surveyed between July 17- 21, 2020 and is considered accurate within +/- 2.6 percentage points.

The other poll surveyed 1,514 Canadian adults between July 10-13, and is considered accurate to within +/- 2.9 percentage point.

MacKay tweeted his pleasure with the poll findings.

MacKay tweet

The full poll results can be found here.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter.com/nobby7694

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UPDATE: ‘Joey Mags’ audit reveals $16,000 in dubious expenses

Mayor Naheed Nenshi said he was “shocked” by what the investigation revealed.

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A forensic audit expenses of Calgary Ward 2 Coun. Joe Magliocca shows shocking unexplained spending.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi said it shows clear signs of bad behaviour.

“What we’ve seen is a consistent pattern of behaviour, over a long period of time,” Nenshi said.

“This is a disregard, a real disregard for the rules at the very worst. This is a pattern of behaviour that I don’t think is befitting of an elected official.”

Magliocca – known as Joey Mags in political circles – tallied $36,687.10 in net expenses since 2017, with nearly $16,000 of either not in accordance with city policy or yet to be determined after the forensic audit of his expenses was released.

A six month investigation was launched after questions arose from travel expenses Magliocca filed in 2017 claiming hospitality expenses with people whom he never met.

In February, council called for an external audit of his expenses dating back to 2017 following Postmedia reports about discrepancies in his receipts from the 2019 Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference in Quebec City.

 Magliocca, who has been in office since 2013, expensed $6,400 travelling to and from the conference, at least $1,800 was attributed to “hosting” costs, paying for meals and drinks with other politicians and company representatives.

Postmedia found 11 people that Magliocca claimed hosting expenses with who said they had never met him.

The amount was more than double what nine other council members on the trip expensed.

The forensic report showed situations where money was charged to the city that shouldn’t have been, and events that were claimed but Magliocca wasn’t a part of.

The majority of the expenses found ineligible were for meals and hotel rooms.

The external report by external firm pointed out nearly $9,000 in airfare costs they recommended the city look further into.

Those costs represent seven flights where Magliocca upgraded his seat to premium or business class despite a city policy that economy fares should be booked unless they’re unavailable.

It also showed that 17 of Magliocca’s receipts were missing.

The city has forwarded the report to the city police for a look-see.

Magliocca will also be forced to issue a public apology and is banned from future city travel, his council colleagues have decided.

Council will also send the results of the investigation to Alberta’s municipal affairs minister and make Magliocca take a refresher course in city expenses policy.

Nenshi said it’s not the city’s job to remove the councillor.

“Ultimately, I believe that the voters are the arbiters of this. It’s not the provincial government, who is the boss of the municipal council; the voters – the citizens – are the boss,” said Nenshi.

A spokesman for Municipal Affairs Minister Kaycee Madu said: “We have not yet received the report, but will review it upon arrival. Calgary has dutifully handled this matter through its code of conduct policy. We hope this situation results in positive changes for taxpayers.”

Calgary NDP MLA Joe Ceci called on the province to remove Magliocca.

“Councillor Magliocca’s expense debacle shows that taxpayers need better tools to hold local politicians accountable when they misbehave,” said Franco Terrazzano, Alberta Director for the CTF.

“The Alberta government must fulfill its promise to introduce local recall rules, which would give citizens the ability to fire local councillors and mayors between elections.

“The city of Calgary must also introduce common sense transparency rules like making sure all expenses are publicly disclosed and prohibiting councillors from expensing alcohol.”

Magliocca said the results were because of clerical errors and told council in February: “Calgary taxpayers expect better of me and so does this council.”

He initially paid back $2,100 in conference expenses and later paid back all “alcohol-related” costs since the last election. Magliocca has now repaid more than $6,000 from the past two years of his expenses. 

Magliocca, who hasn’t commented, hasn’t announced whether he will seek reelection next October.

Council also asked the city manager to look at ways to improve their expense policies.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter.com/nobby7694

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