We’ve had none of these things. There was no prior disclosure — indeed, WE had previously denied payments to the prime minister’s family. The prime minister has admitted he did not recuse himself from the cabinet vote that would have given WE the work, had the plan not been abandoned. And despite repeated questioning as to why WE was selected in the first place, the Liberals have offered only vague mumblings about WE being the only organization that could have done the job. Why? In what way? Says who? No one knows.
The Prime Minister’s Office will try to obscure the issue, in its efforts to mitigate this latest unforced ethical lapse by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Don’t let it. This was easily avoidable. Canadians, once again, deserved better from Trudeau. And once again, they didn’t get it.
The WE scandal swirling about the prime minister seems, in some ways, complicated. It involves various payments to various individuals from various different corporate entities under the overall WE corporate umbrella, all paid out over a number of years.
But the crux of the matter is actually simple — as much as the prime minister and his supporters may wish to pretend otherwise.
The issue is not the (unquestioned) right of the prime minister’s relatives — his wife, brother and mother — to work. Nor is it the good works WE would no doubt insist it does, and would have done, had the organization disbursed $900 million in public funds as originally planned. Nor is the issue about which branch of the WE organization signed which cheque, and which should have.
The issue is, yet again, the prime minister showing a no-longer-shocking inability or unwillingness to perceive how his actions appear, and his apparent absence of interest in rules and guidelines intended to protect him as much as the public. Handing out millions in management fees to an organization with ongoing financial links to his family requires, at the very least, prior disclosure and the prime minister’s recusal from the vote. It also requires a thorough and convincing explanation as to why the organization was the best choice.