The federal Conservatives are calling on WE Charity to release a series of documents the Toronto-based youth organization promised to hand over to a House of Commons committee before Prime Minister Justin Trudeau prorogued Parliament.
But WE is pushing back against the Tories’ request, with the organization’s legal counsel saying it amounts to “politics, not proper process.”
The Tories’ request is contained in a letter sent Sunday from Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre and ethics critic Michael Barrett to Craig and Marc Kielburger, the brothers who co-founded WE more than 20 years ago.
It represents the official Opposition’s latest effort to continue digging into the decision to have WE run a multimillion-dollar student-volunteer program, after Trudeau temporarily shuttered several Commons committee investigations by proroguing Parliament on Aug. 18.
In their letter, Poilievre and Barrett note the Kielburgers and other WE officials committed to provide members of Parliament with answers to several questions they were unable to answer while appearing before the finance committee.
Those unanswered questions are outlined in two annexes prepared by the Library of Parliament and attached to the Conservatives’ letter, and include details on WE’s discussions with the Liberal government about the Canada Student Services Grant.
The finance committee also asked the charity to provide more information about two trips that WE hosted for then-finance minister Bill Morneau and his family to Kenya and Ecuador.
“That additional information had not been provided to the committee at the time that Justin Trudeau shut down Parliament,” Poilievre and Barrett wrote to the Kielburgers.
“However, given you both expressed your desire to provide members of Parliament with the information required, we urge you to not wait for the House of Commons to return in September.”
The Kielburgers spoke to the finance committee via videolink on July 28, at which time they insisted WE was not chosen to run the Canada Student Services Grant because of the organization’s ties to Trudeau and other members of the Liberal government.
WE executives Dalal Al Waheidi, Scott Baker and Sofia Marquez appeared two weeks later, when they were grilled over dozens of communications with public office holders despite not being registered with the federal lobbyist registry.
In a statement to the Canadian Press on Sunday, a lawyer for WE appeared to reject the Conservatives’ request.
“Mr. Poilievre’s letter amounts to politics, not proper process,” William McDowell said. “The committees ceased to exist with the prorogation of Parliament. There is no committee to receive the documents.”
McDowell added that ”when there is a new committee, our clients will be pleased to communicate with the clerk of the new committee regarding the production of documents.”
All committee work officially ends when Parliament is prorogued.
But the committees can reconstitute themselves and continue their studies when it resumes. That is expected to happen after the throne speech on Sept. 23 as opposition parties hold a majority of seats on all committees.
To that end, Poilievre and Barrett warned the finance committee would “aggressively” follow up on any outstanding information after Parliament resumes, “but we are certain that in the spirit of co-operation you will want to proactively respond now.”
The Canada Student Services Grant was announced by Trudeau on June 25 and billed as a way for students to earn money towards their post-secondary education by volunteering for charities and non-profit groups fighting COVID-19.
But the government’s decision to have WE run the program, which had an announced budget of $912 million, drew immediate allegations of a conflict of interest due to Trudeau’s ties to the charity, including appearances at several of its WE Day rallies.
WE eventually backed out of the agreement, citing political controversy, and the grant program has since been abandoned. The ethics commissioner is now investigating Trudeau, whose family was paid to appear at several WE events, as well as Morneau.
Barrett wrote last week to Speaker’s Spotlight, the agency through which WE paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to Trudeau’s wife, mother and brother for those events, to hand over all documents about the arrangements.
Trudeau and Morneau have apologized for not recusing themselves from cabinet’s discussions about the agreement to have WE run the grant program, but insisted it was public servants who recommended the organization.
Thousands of government documents released by Trudeau when he prorogued Parliament appear to back up that assertion, but also suggest bureaucrats may have been encouraged to work with WE by their political masters.
Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press
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Ukrainian Politics Again Get the Better of a Would-Be Reformer – Bloomberg
A reformer is stepping aside in Ukraine for the second time in less than five years — and with a similar feeling of unease.
Aivaras Abromavicius, who quit the previous administration complaining about corruption, is awaiting President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s approval to resign as head of state-controlled arms producer Ukroboronprom. While this time his exit is planned, there are parallels — namely what he deems waning appetite to tackle graft and overhaul the economy.
Zelenskiy, 42, was elected in 2019 as an untainted newcomer who could clean up Ukraine’s murky politics, which have been dogged by corruption and influence from big business since the Soviet Union collapsed three decades ago. But after selecting a reformist government, the president dismantled it on the grounds it wasn’t delivering results, turning instead to old hands. Some were even part of the administration of disgraced former leader Viktor Yanukovych.
The reshuffle disappointed investors and voters alike, with changes at the top of the central bank and complaints by foreign directors serving on the boards of state-run enterprises adding to the gloom. Zelenskiy’s popularity is the lowest since he took office.
“Progressive people are replaced with conservative ones — this is the biggest risk,” Abromavicius said in a phone interview. “This staff policy may lead to corruption, for sure.”
Lithuanian-born Abromavicius, 44, took Ukrainian citizenship to become economy minister after protesters ousted Kremlin-backed Yanukovych in 2014. But he resigned in 2016, saying he faced pressure over appointments at government-run companies and accusing a lawmaker close to then-President Petro Poroshenko of graft.
He arrived at Ukroboronprom in 2019 to oversee an audit, and boost transparency, corporate governance and efficiency. While he waived a salary, the issue of pay for foreigners working at Ukraine’s state-owned companies is concerning creditors abroad.
Foreign nationals appointed to supervisory boards to lift governance standards have seen theirmonthly wages capped at $1,660 — part of measures to mitigate the financial hit from the Covid-19 pandemic. While the limit applied to all public officials, many others have now had their full pay restored.
The International Monetary Fund urges an end to the ceiling, which risks halting further disbursements from a $5 billion aid program. Some directors have quit in protest — including Anders Aslund, a Swedish economist who’d worked at Ukraine’s state railway.
“The president and his loud MPs don’t believe in good corporate governance,” Aslund wrote last week in a column. Foreign board members “have been working hard to try to improve Ukraine’s state companies. From the president (the only Ukrainian president that I’ve never met), we only receive insults and obstacles.”
At Ukroboronprom, a comprehensive revamp is under way but politics are acting as a brake, according to Abromavicius. “Everything slows down bit by bit with every political change.”
But with Ukraine’s lowly ranking in Transparency International’s annual corruption perceptions index barely improving since 2015, the reformers are struggling to make headway.
“A fight is underway for which vector development of Ukraine will take, western or eastern,” Abromavicius said.
Twitter’s Jack Dorsey Slams Coinbase for Its No-Politics Stance
(Bloomberg) — Twitter Inc. Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey joined a chorus of criticism for Coinbase Inc.’s newly announced policy of not debating politics at work, saying it runs counter to the core principles of cryptocurrency.
In reaction to Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong’s blog post arguing that the company should be mission-focused and not “advocate for any particular causes or candidates internally that are unrelated to our mission, because it is a distraction,” Dorsey argued that the whole purpose of currencies like Bitcoin, which is traded on Coinbase, is social activism.
“#Bitcoin (aka “crypto”) is direct activism against an unverifiable and exclusionary financial system which negatively affects so much of our society,” Dorsey tweeted. To not acknowledge and connect the related social and political issues “leaves behind people,” according to the Twitter chief. The bio section of Dorsey’s Twitter profile lists only “#bitcoin,” signaling it’s a key issue for him.
Coinbase, a digital-currency exchange that has more than 35 million users according to its website, suggested that its push for an apolitical stance was a reaction to a growing movement within tech companies for employees’ beliefs to be better represented by their companies.
“We’ve seen what internal strife at companies like Google and Facebook can do to productivity,” Armstrong said in the post. “We are an intense culture and we are an apolitical culture.”
Source: – BNN
Spotlight Politics: A Chaotic Presidential Debate
The first Trump-Biden debate. A fiery hearing on corruption in Springfield. Chicago’s loosening COVID-19 restrictions. Our politics team tackles those stories and more in this week’s roundtable.
Tuesday’s presidential debate was loud, but there often wasn’t much you could actually hear.
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Perhaps the most notable moment came when moderator Chris Wallace asked President Donald Trump to condemn white supremacists and militia groups, and ask them not to behave violently.
“Proud Boys, stand back and stand by,” Trump said.
A House investigative panel met in Springfield on Tuesday to look into whether House Speaker Michael Madigan engaged in conduct unbefitting of his elected position.
Madigan declined to testify, and it remains unclear whether he’ll face the pressure of a subpoena.
The six legislators on the Special Investigative Committee met for about five hours, with much of that time spent peppering the Commonwealth Edison vice president who executed the deferred prosecution agreement, David Glockner, with questions about utility’s bribery scheme as described in the DPA.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot said this week the city is easing restriction on bars and restaurants after a drop in the number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus.
However, Lightfoot said she was not prepared to announce whether Chicago Public Schools students would return to in-person classes in November.
“We’re not there yet,” Lightfoot said, while detailing what she said were significant problems with remote learning. “We’d have to see more progress.”
At a virtual town hall Tuesday evening, Lightfoot said that negotiations with community groups on police oversight are at an impasse.
“We’re moving on from GAPA (the Grassroots Association for Police Accountability),” Lightfoot said. “We’ve got to get it done, we’ve waited too long, we need to move forward and it’s unfortunate that the GAPA folks have not come forward to us with a concrete proposal that solves some of these outstanding issues, but the time is now for us to act. We can’t wait any longer.”
Lightfoot said at the town hall she would propose an alternative proposal before the end of the year.
Our politics team of Amanda Vinicky, Heather Cherone, Paris Schutz and Carol Marin discuss these stories and more in this week’s edition of “Spotlight Politics.”
Source:- WTTW News
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