Evidence of meeting #12 for Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics in the 43rd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was charity.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Ian Shugart  Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet, Privy Council Office
Gina Wilson  Deputy Minister, Diversity and Inclusion and Youth, Department of Canadian Heritage
Benoît Robidoux  Associate Deputy Minister, Department of Employment and Social Development
Mary Dawson  As an Individual

3:05 p.m.

Bloc

Rhéal Fortin Bloc Rivière-du-Nord, QC

A point of order, Madam Chair.

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rachael Harder

Mr. Fortin.

3:05 p.m.

Bloc

Rhéal Fortin Bloc Rivière-du-Nord, QC

We have a problem with an additional delay because of the interpretation.

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

No, no.

3:05 p.m.

Bloc

Rhéal Fortin Bloc Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Mr. Poilievre, you say no, but it is really yes.

Madam Chair, there are delays between the questions and the answers, which means time is wasted. When you speak English here at the committee, you have more time to ask questions than—

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rachael Harder

Mr. Fortin, thank you.

3:05 p.m.

Bloc

Rhéal Fortin Bloc Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Can I finish explaining the reason for my point of order, Madam Chair?

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rachael Harder

Thank you. You're done.

3:05 p.m.

Bloc

Rhéal Fortin Bloc Rivière-du-Nord, QC

You are thanking me, but I would like to finish.

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rachael Harder

Thank you.

You're at seven minutes and 26 seconds, Mr. Fortin. I've been very generous with your time up until now, and I would ask that you respect that. It is up to the minister to answer the questions how she wishes to do so, and it is up to you to cut her off if you are not pleased with her answer.

Thank you, Mr. Fortin.

3:05 p.m.

Bloc

Rhéal Fortin Bloc Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Madam Chair, when we started, you told us that the answers would be of about the same length as the questions. That is no longer the case, even not counting the delay for the interpretation.

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rachael Harder

We are moving on.

Mr. Angus, you have the floor for six minutes.

3:05 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Thank you, Madam Chair.

Thank you, Madam Chagger, for returning.

When we were at the finance committee, you were asked a very straight-up question about whether or not you had had any dealings with the Kielburgers or anyone from WE Charity in the lead-up to this coming to cabinet. Why didn't you tell us about your meeting on April 17 with Craig Kielburger?

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Bardish Chagger Liberal Waterloo, ON

Madam Chair, these meetings are public. The question I was asked was whether I spoke with the organization in regard to the Canada student service grant. I answered that question truthfully and openly. The member today provides me the opportunity to provide the information in regard to the organization writ large, and I have provided that information for the record. I answered the question that was posed to me.

3:05 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Actually, the question you were asked was very simple: Did you have any meetings with anyone from the WE organization in the lead-up to cabinet? They did not ask about the Canada student service grant. You put that in. It was a simple question.

My frustration here is that when you're asked a simple question—did you meet with the Kielburgers?—and you can't give us a straight answer, it makes the waters seem very, very murky for you. My concern is that this meeting, I think, was crucial, and yet you didn't tell us that. Why didn't you tell us that you had met with Craig Kielburger?

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Bardish Chagger Liberal Waterloo, ON

Madam Chair, I think you have noted the length of the question. I will take that time to respond.

The member is welcome to refer to the official record and to see that the question was in context to the Canada student service grant—

3:05 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

It wasn't.

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Bardish Chagger Liberal Waterloo, ON

—in which the motion was put forward.

He can choose to interrupt, and that is an approach he chooses to routinely take. I have set the record clear today as to the two times that I have personally interacted with the organization. I went to WE Day on December 10 to speak to an auditorium full of youth at the National Arts Centre. That was on December 10, 2019. I was requested to have a conversation with the organization with regard to an unsolicited social entrepreneurship—

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rachael Harder

Minister, I'm going to go to Mr. Angus now.

3:10 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Thank you.

Here's the thing. You were asked a straight question, but of course we have the record. It's on the record. The thing is, of course you weren't speaking about the Canada student service grant on April 17, because it didn't exist. It wasn't announced until April 22. It's again this splitting of hairs that I find frustrating.

Let's just jump forward, because you also told us that Rachel Wernick came up with this idea. She told us that she had been instructed by officials to reach out, but it's the Craig Kielburger connection to her that I want to bring to your attention. He writes her an email—his introduction to her—and he says, based on the meeting with Minister Chagger, “In that spirit, we have proposed two programs—and we could deliver one or both programs”. You're Craig Kielburger's all-access pass.

I don't get how the fact that you were at some WE event at some auditorium is germane to anything, when it's the April 17 meeting you have with Craig Kielburger. You don't tell us this. This has to come out in the media. The fact is that Craig Kielburger uses you as the introduction to Rachel Wernick in saying that not only did they have the one program, but they had two programs they were ready to deliver. What happened in that conversation that led to having two programs instead of just one?

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Bardish Chagger Liberal Waterloo, ON

Madam Chair, I have been asked to testify, and I do my utmost to make sure that information is readily available. I know that definitely when I appeared at the finance committee I made sure that details of the contribution agreement were available. I also said that we would share all documents to ensure that members and Canadians can have these answers. I think it's important that they receive these answers.

In regard to the April 17 meeting the member is referring to, it was in regard to an unsolicited social entrepreneurship program for youth. As the Minister of Youth, it's important that I be informed as well. This proposal is not something that was first brought to my attention. As Rachel Wernick has testified, it had gone to another minister as well and then it was shared with me. I made myself available to listen to that information. It's not something that I would have full jurisdiction or be the lead on—

3:10 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

No, I know. I get that.

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Bardish Chagger Liberal Waterloo, ON

—but I did listen to it, and it's not something I was considering.

3:10 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Well, obviously you did consider, because Rachel Wernick gets her email from Craig Kielburger saying that he had not just one proposal but two proposals. It's the second proposal that became the Canada student service grant. That was the form.

On the fact that you were meeting on April 17 and the Prime Minister announces it on April 22, and on the fact that Craig Kielburger is then contacting Rachel Wernick because he's met with you and he has the two proposals, I think you need to just come a little more clean with us, Minister, and tell us what you recommended to Craig Kielburger so that we can get a straight answer here.

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Han Dong Liberal Don Valley North, ON

On a point of order, Chair, for the second time today Mr. Angus has brought up this document between Mr. Kielburger and Rachel Wernick.