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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

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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UCP demand Lethbridge cops shut down drug injection site

The pop-up drug site operates on a nightly basis in a park that is the centre of the opioid abuse in the southern Alberta city.

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The provincial government is demanding Lethbridge police shut down an illegal safe injection site being operated in a tent.

The tent sprung up after a controversial Lethbridge safe drug consumption site shuttered its doors on Aug. 31 after the Alberta government cut its funding after an independent audit discovered a litany of problems including “financial irregularities.”

Now the pop-up drug site operates on a nightly basis in a park that is the centre of the opioid abuse in the southern Alberta city.

“Alberta’s government provides a legal, sanctioned overdose prevention site a block away from this location, with adequate capacity for the community, said associate minister of Mental Health and Addictions Jason Luan in a statement to the Western Standard.

“This illegal site contravenes the Criminal Code of Canada and we expect the City of Lethbridge and the Lethbridge Police Service to enforce the law.”

ARCHES received up to 800 visits a day – one of the busiest supervised consumption sites in the world. Lethbridge, a city of 100,000, has the highest per-capita rate of opioid overdose deaths in Alberta.

The pop-up site is being run by the newly formed Lethbridge Overdose Prevention Society, CBC reported.

The tent offer services for a couple of hours before packing up for the day. There is enough room for two people to inject drugs at a time.

ARCHES had received more than $14.4 million in taxpayer dollars over the past two years.

The government announced in July the accounting firm Deloitte found:

  • $1,617,094 unaccounted for due to missing documentation for expenditures from 2017 to 2018.
  • $13,000 of interest off ARCHES bank accounts was used to fund parties, staff retreats, entertainment and gift cards.
  • A senior executive’s compensation totalled $342,943 for calendar year 2019. This includes $70,672 in overtime for fiscal year 2019-20. The grant agreement allows for a salary of $80,000.  
  • The Everyone Comes Together (ECT) program staff salaries and benefits also exceeded the amount allocated by the grant agreement by $16,000.
  • The number of ARCHES employees is greater than allowed by the grant agreement.  ARCHES maintained up to 126 employees. However, the exact number could not be verified.
  • $4,301 spent on European travel for management to attend a conference in Portugal.
  • Thousands of dollars in unverifiable travel expenses, including trips charged to company credit cards but not recorded in the ledger.
  • A senior executive’s family member was hired, earning $9,900. The auditors could not locate a resume or personnel file to verify any qualifications.
  • $7,557 for management retreats, including meals and mileage where documentation for spending was unclear.
  • The grant agreement requires the organization to maintain the funding received from Alberta Health within a separate bank account; however, the audit revealed that it was comingled with other funding sources. As a result of ARCHES comingling their accounts, the auditors could not verify thousands of dollars of expenses.
  • Proper personal conflict of interest declarations were not recorded when related individuals or vendors were hired or utilized.
  • Vendors were repeatedly secured in secrecy with a lack of transparency and accountability.
  • No petty cash reconciliations have been completed.
  • $1,129 was used to buy gift cards for board members for The Keg, iTunes, Boston Pizza, Earls, Gap, Shell, Chapters, Cineplex, Amazon, Starbuck’s, Tim Hortons, MasterCard, and Bath and Bodyworks. The expense was recorded as “Gift cards – Board Members.”
  • $2,100 was spent on gift cards to The Oil Changer – a business owned by a senior executive’s spouse.
  • $2,205 was spent on a television with no receipt documentation to support the purchase.

The report has been passed on to police.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
TWITTER: Twitter.com/nobby7694

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Trump approves $22-billion railway between Alaska and Alberta

A2A Rail vice chair Mead Treadwell said the so-called A2A Railway will succeed where others have failed, because markets are hungry for resources that Canada produces

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U.S. President Donald Trump has issued an executive permit allowing a $22-billion international railway to be built between Alaska and Alberta.

“Based on the strong recommendation of @SenDanSullivan and @repdonyoung of the Great State of Alaska, it is my honor to inform you that I will be issuing a Presidential Permit for the A2A Cross-Border Rail between Alaska & Canada. Congratulations to the people of Alaska & Canada!” the president tweeted Friday.

A2A Rail vice chair Mead Treadwell said the so-called A2A Railway will succeed where others have failed, because markets are hungry for resources that Canada produces, but can’t export quickly enough to meet demand.

A2A proposed route

The company will start by constructing rail from North Pole, near Fairbanks, where the Alaska Railroad ends today. From there the railway will move south and east through Alaska, across into Yukon, the Northwest Territories, and into Alberta.

“It is approximately 1,600 miles, with roughly 200 miles of new track in Alaska, and the remaining 1,400 miles in western and northern Canada. We estimate our investment to be $15 billion CAD in Canada and another $7 billion CAD in Alaska,” said the company’s website.

“The port capacity and sometimes the rail capacity at other places in Canada are just so choked that there’s a potential market for a new port and a new method to get to Asian markets,” Treadwell said in an interview in August with KUAC.

“The Alaska Railroad right now runs 512 miles from Seward to North Pole we’re going to take that track and extend it 1500 miles to connect up with rail lines in Alberta,” Treadwell said.

Treadwell said the the system will transport bitumen, potash, sulfur and grains.

“We believe we have a project which is competitive with pipeline and one of the reasons why it’s competitive is because its risks can spread over several different commodities,” he said.

Treadwell says if all goes according to plan, work on the project would begin within three years and be completed in six. 

The company said it will now begin an “extensive environmental impact assessment” (EIA) under Canadian legislation for the Yukon, B.C. and Alberta.

Company founder Sean McCoshen has already spent over $100 million USD through the pre-feasibility, feasibility, and detailed engineering phases of the project. 

A2A Rail has also started talks with Indigenous groups along the proposed path.

“The proposed route for the A2A Rail project includes portions of traditional, treaty and heritage lands of Indigenous Peoples in Canada and the United States. A2A Rail has initiated dialogue with Indigenous Peoples along the proposed route to brief them on the project,” said the company.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
TWITTER: Twitter.com/nobby7694

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Feds cancel private sector program to help with gun grab

Public Safety Canada had invited 15 consulting firms in August to come up with a range of options and approaches for the planned program to compensate gun owners.

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Just a month after asking the private sector for help in arranging a gun grab buyout package, the federal Liberals have cancelled the project.

Public Safety Canada had invited 15 consulting firms in August to come up with a range of options and approaches for the planned program to compensate gun owners.

It’s expected any plan will cost taxpayers billions of dollars.

A spokeswoman for Public Safety Canada said at the time options that emerge from the selected contractor “may be incorporated into a final program. Costs will be available once a provider is selected.”

But now the ad has a big “cancelled” across it.

Pubic Safety said any plan would would require the successful bidder to consult with other federal agencies, possibly other levels of government and industry experts to devise options that include compensation plans for each affected firearm, analysis of benefits and risks associated with each compensation model and the identification of “other considerations” that might affect the feasibility of each approach.

The first phase of the work was expected to be complete by the end of March. 

The invited bidders were well-known firms such as Deloitte, IBM Canada, KPMG and Pricewaterhouse Coopers, though Public Safety had not ruled out other entries.

Trudeau’s Liberal government announced in May they are banning 1,500 different makes and models of what he called “military-style” and “assault-style” guns in Canada.

The ban comes into effect immediately and was ordered by the cabinet without any bill or debate in Parliament.

In response to the federal order, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said the province will look at appointing its own firearms officer.

A Canadian firearms expert said the Trudeau Liberal government’s plan to buy buy recently prohibited firearms from Canadian gun owners could end up costing up to $5-billion.

Gary Mauser, Senior Fellow at the Fraser Institute, said whatever plan the Liberals come up with will likely end up being a billion-dollar boondoggle.

“Minister (Bill) Blair claimed the cost for the “buy back” of roughly 250,000 firearms would be between $400 million and $600 million—$375 million for the guns and presumably the rest for overhead. That is, if owners comply,” Mauser wrote in a January blog, published before the firearms ban was announced.

“However, the actual full cost of the ‘buy back’ won’t be $600 million; it will be much more.

“Focusing on reimbursement costs is misleading because it ignores the biggest expense—staffing costs. Prohibiting and confiscating an estimated 250,000 firearms is a complex undertaking and would involve considerable government resources. It’s impossible to do with current police resources.”

Mauser wrote that if everything went according to plan for setting up the infrastructure to buy back weapons could be up to $2.7 billion.

“Based on these assumptions, confiscating 250,000 firearms would cost the Canadian taxpayer between $1.6 billion to almost $5 billion in the first year. This estimate excludes travel costs and any ministerial administrators,” he wrote.

“Remember, this is just part of the costs to taxpayers for the “buy back.” These estimates do not include the $600 million the government promises to pay owners who surrender their firearms.”

Numerous lawsuits have been filed to try and stop the gun grab.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
TWITTER: Twitter.com/nobby7694

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