Evidence of meeting #43 for Finance 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

Paulette Senior  President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Women's Foundation
Rahul O. Singh  Executive Director, GlobalMedic
Vivian Krause  Researcher and Writer, As an Individual
Jesse Brown  Publisher, CANADALAND, As an Individual
Michelle Kovacevic  Assistant Deputy Minister, Federal-Provincial Relations and Social Policy Branch, Department of Finance
Clerk of the Committee  Ms. Evelyn Lukyniuk

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Chris Bittle Liberal St. Catharines, ON

That's okay. I'm going to ask Ms. Krause a question.

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

Okay. Go ahead.

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Chris Bittle Liberal St. Catharines, ON

You stated on your website that you're not a member of a political party, but I've noticed some tweets in favour of Peter MacKay and his campaign. Most recently, on July 17, you asked your followers, “I'm curious...what are your reasons for not supporting Peter MacKay?” As a former Conservative staffer and as someone who was dropped from a recent conference because you were too political, aren't you really closely tied to the Conservative Party with your research, your speaking and your advocacy?

1:50 p.m.

Researcher and Writer, As an Individual

Vivian Krause

Mr. Chair, do you find that a relevant question?

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Chris Bittle Liberal St. Catharines, ON

Well, your attack—

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

Given the comments earlier, I think it is.

1:50 p.m.

Researcher and Writer, As an Individual

Vivian Krause

How can I answer that? I have no political affiliation. I hardly think that tweet was a favour to Peter MacKay, seeing as it just generated a whole ton of negative tweets about him. It was quite an objective question. The reason I asked it was as a follow-up on a poll I did.

I've tweeted out political leaders of all parties. I've contacted politicians of all parties. I'm available to talk to anyone from any political party.

I think the issue we have in front of us should not be of concern only to one political party. It should be of concern to all Canadians.

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

Okay.

Ask your last question, Mr. Bittle.

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Chris Bittle Liberal St. Catharines, ON

Why were you dropped as a keynote speaker at a business communications conference in Alberta back in October 2019?

1:50 p.m.

Researcher and Writer, As an Individual

Vivian Krause

On my blog there's a long explanation. You're welcome to read it.

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Chris Bittle Liberal St. Catharines, ON

Well, I asked you the question.

1:50 p.m.

Researcher and Writer, As an Individual

Vivian Krause

I think what they did was absolutely terrible. I think it was—

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Chris Bittle Liberal St. Catharines, ON

They dropped you because you were too political. Isn't that the case?

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

Mr. Bittle, we'll allow Ms. Krause to answer the question and then we'll go to Ms. May.

Ms. Krause, the floor is yours.

1:50 p.m.

Researcher and Writer, As an Individual

Vivian Krause

Just to sum it up, there's been a long, intensive effort to discredit me. I think that disinviting me to that particular conference was part of that effort. If you want the details, go to my blog. It's all written up.

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

All right. Thank you, Ms. Krause.

Just for your information, Ms. Krause, I do remember your testimony about charities before the committee during pre-budget consultations, and I thought it was valuable information at that time.

We'll now go to Ms. May to wrap it up.

1:55 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

How many minutes do I have, Mr. Chair?

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

You have four minutes. That's all I can give you. Sorry.

1:55 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

No, that's fine. Thank you very much.

I will pick up on the controversy we were just having between Ms. Krause and Mr. Bittle—you should mute yourself, Ms. Krause, because I'm going to ask someone else a question—and I'll say, just to correct the record, that Ms. Krause has never contacted the Green Party of Canada. I don't believe in attacking witnesses, so I'll say nothing more about Ms. Krause.

I do want to say, Mr. Brown, that your research.... I made a mistake once of doubting your journalism. I regretted it. You're an excellent researcher. I think we should find things that you put forward in Canadaland as likely to be verified and based on sound research.

I think we can try to get at some facts about the contract, and for that I want to turn to Mr. Singh and GlobalMedic.

I really appreciate your evidence. Mr. Singh, you talked about the offering you made to WE. This may be in the statement that was distributed in writing, which I don't have, so forgive me if I'm asking you something that you've already shared with the committee. When did you first start discussing with the WE organization the possibility of GlobalMedic's being involved in this project? Had you ever partnered with the WE organization in the past?

1:55 p.m.

Executive Director, GlobalMedic

Rahul O. Singh

Number one, we started asking government to let us be part of this program back in April and we heard nothing. I explained to you the steps we took with that. On June 15, we received an email from the WE organization asking us if we'd be interested. On June 17, we had a conference call with members from the WE organization. They were quite competent. They explained to us the process. They told us what they could offer to us, which was $100,000 for x number of positions; in this case, it would be 400.

I will say that, with one party making $43.5 million and one making $100,000, we should really evaluate the fairness of deals like that. I'm not going to speak on the record of the committee what I can say about that, but that's the extent of it.

We have an MOU that we signed, which was clearly backed by the Canadian government, based on a lot of the language. We opened these positions up and said, “Okay, let's hold back, of the 400 positions.... We want to keep 50 for people that we've already recruited internally and open it up to 350 of the students who they have recruited or are coming in.” Unfortunately, this now fell apart. We're still hoping to get more students through. I'm still hoping those students still get their bursaries.

1:55 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

You have a written contract, but it's with the WE organization, not with the federal government. The young people who have been accepted in your program as volunteers are in limbo, as I understand it.

Have you gone back to any of the Government of Canada agencies that were behind this, particularly Service Canada or ESDC, and said, “Look, we have this contract with WE organization. They've withdrawn from the project. Where do our students stand now? Where do these positions stand now?”

July 22nd, 2020 / 1:55 p.m.

Executive Director, GlobalMedic

Rahul O. Singh

We have. We've gone back to Minister Chagger's office. To their credit, they were very quick in responding. A director of policy or a director of stakeholders responded and said that the government, ESDC, was going to take over and would be in touch. Now it's been a few weeks and no one has contacted us.

I'm hoping that the committee will get someone to get in touch with us, because every day we have a missed opportunity for a lot of students we could be helping, a lot of students who create ancillary benefits from the programs we're running.

1:55 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

That's my time. I thank you very much.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

Thank you very much, Ms. May.

Thank you to all the witnesses for coming.

Sometimes we have a little tense questions and answers at this committee, but that's fine. It's all part of the political process. There is nothing personal intended.

With that, I want to thank all the witnesses for taking the time. For those who sent us documents, they will be sent to committee members. Thank you once again.

We will suspend for about two minutes and come back for a panel with the Minister of Finance and officials.

The meeting is suspended.

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

We will officially reconvene the meeting.

Welcome to meeting number 43. This will be the second panel of the House Standing Committee on Finance.

We are meeting today on government spending, the WE Charity and the Canada student service grant. Today's meeting is taking place by video conference, and the proceedings will be made available via the House of Commons website.

During this session, we have the Minister of Finance and officials from the Department of Finance. I believe officials from the Department of Finance will be here following the minister's first hour. Normally, we hold ministers to usually five minutes and sometimes allow them 10. The minister has asked for a little more time, 10 or 12 minutes, for his opening statement, but is willing to stay for the normal amount of questions which would be 55 minutes.

Minister, we will begin with your opening statement and then we'll go to our series of questions.

Welcome. It's good to have you here.