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

2 p.m.

Liberal

Han Dong Liberal Don Valley North, ON

Thank you, Mr. Shugart.

2 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rachael Harder

Mr. Poilievre, the floor is yours for five minutes.

2 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

Mr. Shugart, you testified at the finance committee that there is no evidence that anyone in the PMO had been in contact with WE in the lead-up to the announcement of this initiative. The chief of staff to the Prime Minister has since contradicted you and said that at least five members of the PMO were in contact with WE. Can you give us their names?

2 p.m.

Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet, Privy Council Office

Ian Shugart

I don't have those names with me, Chair, and I wouldn't normally know. I think Ms. Telford made commitments to follow up on that.

2 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

That's fair enough. Did anyone in the PMO communicate with anyone in PCO about WE in the period from the beginning of March until the contribution agreement was signed?

2 p.m.

Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet, Privy Council Office

Ian Shugart

It is possible. I don't know the details of it. Particularly toward the end, the latter stages of the process, it is possible.

2 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

Is it possible that they communicated about WE with the PCO prior to the May 8 recommendation that public servants provided the Prime Minister, that WE deliver the program?

2 p.m.

Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet, Privy Council Office

Ian Shugart

In the form of discussions about the proposal as it was being developed, that is possible. PMO-to-PCO communication, that is possible.

2 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

Right, I think it is probable that we had political-to-public service communication before we got public service recommendations back to political.

2 p.m.

Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet, Privy Council Office

Ian Shugart

Communication is not direction.

2 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

Well, that's what we're going to find out.

When did you first hear that WE was considered for this program?

2 p.m.

Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet, Privy Council Office

Ian Shugart

As I indicated to the finance committee, I take the question, Chair, as a personal one. I became aware of this particular file in a fairly light way and toward the latter stages.

2 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

Do you have a date, just because we don't need to go—

2 p.m.

Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet, Privy Council Office

Ian Shugart

I can't confirm if it was at the May 8 briefing.

2 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

Were you at that briefing? If I understand your answer earlier, you said you might have been there, but you might not have been, and you think you were, but you—

2 p.m.

Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet, Privy Council Office

Ian Shugart

Sometimes I am at a briefing. I'm typically at a briefing of the Prime Minister before cabinet, but not always.

2 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

Were you at that one?

2 p.m.

Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet, Privy Council Office

Ian Shugart

I suspect so, but I cannot be certain. I can check, if that's material.

2 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

Well, it's just that this is a particularly important cabinet briefing. It's the meeting at which the Prime Minister claims he first learned that WE was going to deliver this program.

2 p.m.

Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet, Privy Council Office

Ian Shugart

I have examined the record and consulted with colleagues and confirmed that that is the case.

2 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

But you don't know for sure if you were at the meeting.

2 p.m.

Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet, Privy Council Office

Ian Shugart

I suspect that I was there for the briefing on May 8 and May 22, but I don't want, without being certain, to tell the committee definitively. I believe, yes.

2 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

You believe you were at the meeting.

2 p.m.

Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet, Privy Council Office

Ian Shugart

I suspect that I was there. If you want me to confirm with my calendar, then I will do that. I can be at a meeting with the Prime Minister and be called out of the meeting, so there's—

2 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

This might have been one of those meetings that I wouldn't want to be at, and if I was there, I wouldn't want to remember it.