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

1:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

—the $350 million, Mr. Fortin.

Mr. Singh, do you want to comment on the $350 million?

1:30 p.m.

Bloc

Rhéal Fortin Bloc Rivière-du-Nord, QC

You were talking about three parties. Were you talking about political parties? What were you talking about?

1:30 p.m.

Executive Director, GlobalMedic

Rahul O. Singh

In April, the government announced $350 million to be programmed by three charities: the Red Cross, the United Way, which is called Centraide in Quebec, and—

1:30 p.m.

Bloc

Rhéal Fortin Bloc Rivière-du-Nord, QC

So you are talking about three entities. That was the clarification I wanted. Thank you, Mr. Singh. I didn't want to interrupt you, but I wanted that clarification.

I will now turn to you, Ms. Krause.

1:30 p.m.

Researcher and Writer, As an Individual

Vivian Krause

You can ask me your questions.

1:30 p.m.

Bloc

Rhéal Fortin Bloc Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Ms. Krause, a number of things have emerged from your testimony, including the exchange of confidential information, an issue that concerns me. I understand that you cannot give us all the sources, but are there documentary or other sources that you can share with us to support your testimony on the amount of information that WE has and that could be communicated?

1:30 p.m.

Researcher and Writer, As an Individual

Vivian Krause

Absolutely. Today, I will send to the committee all the documents, the calculations, the numbers, the tables, and everything. I am also going to post them on my blog.

1:30 p.m.

Bloc

Rhéal Fortin Bloc Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Okay.

Can you name some of the articles, documents, financial statements or other sources that you have right away?

July 22nd, 2020 / 1:30 p.m.

Researcher and Writer, As an Individual

Vivian Krause

Yes. The documents I used are Canadian and U.S. tax refunds. The information on the amounts for Allstate, Microsoft, Unilever, and KPMG is in the U.S. tax refunds.

1:30 p.m.

Bloc

Rhéal Fortin Bloc Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Do you have any documentation on the personal information held by WE that could be sold or communicated in one way or another to third parties, such as Microsoft? For example, WE is going to help young students. Could information such as addresses, phone numbers and emails be sold or shared with WE sponsors?

1:35 p.m.

Researcher and Writer, As an Individual

Vivian Krause

If you read my letter, you will see the questions I am asking.

There are restrictions in their privacy policy that companies respect, but they also say they will release information under certain conditions. They make the data anonymous and consolidate it.

I sent my letter a week ago asking them what they do with all the information and why they have such a detailed policy. Of course, it was written by a lawyer. So what is its purpose?

1:35 p.m.

Bloc

Rhéal Fortin Bloc Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Okay, thank you.

How long have you been following the activities of WE?

1:35 p.m.

Researcher and Writer, As an Individual

Vivian Krause

For at least six years. That was well before the 2015 election.

1:35 p.m.

Bloc

Rhéal Fortin Bloc Rivière-du-Nord, QC

You are a researcher and an author. In the course of your regular activities, have you had to do any specific research on the WE network and all the organizations associated with it?

1:35 p.m.

Researcher and Writer, As an Individual

Vivian Krause

If I understood you correctly, you want to know if I have done any research—

1:35 p.m.

Bloc

Rhéal Fortin Bloc Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Let me clarify my question. There are four, five or even more entities linked to WE. I don't know exactly which ones, but I think the WE Charity Foundation and ME to WE are among them.

Have you looked further into the connection between the different entities that are linked to WE?

1:35 p.m.

Researcher and Writer, As an Individual

Vivian Krause

Yes, a little. I have compared the names of the directors in the United States and Canada to see whether any of the names appear together.

1:35 p.m.

Bloc

Rhéal Fortin Bloc Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Do you have a report on that? If so, is it possible to see it?

1:35 p.m.

Researcher and Writer, As an Individual

Vivian Krause

Yes. I am going to forward all this information to the committee.

1:35 p.m.

Bloc

Rhéal Fortin Bloc Rivière-du-Nord, QC

That's wonderful. Thank you, Ms. Krause.

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

Thank you, Mr. Fortin. We are slightly over.

Mr. Angus, we'll give you about four and a half minutes as well.

That will be followed by Mr. Cumming.

Go ahead, Charlie.

1:35 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Thank you so much, Mr. Chair.

We learned today that the Government of Canada signed a $900-million deal with a real estate holding company with no track record—just established—no history and no involvement in the charitable sector.

Why this agreement was signed—and due diligence must have been done by the finance minister's office to put this money through a real estate holding company—I find very troubling to consider.

Mr. Brown, I'd like to go back to you about the concerns that were raised by Charity Intelligence. I saw that WE had written a very aggressive rebuttal to Charity Intelligence, but they did not talk about Charity Intelligence's comments on the real estate deals, the fact that there were short-term on-demand loans with the banks that were causing a number of red flags.

I'm not any kind of forensic auditor, but a lawyer suggested to me that if you sign a deal through the real estate holding company, it would certainly stabilize the Kielburgers' real estate holdings with the bank, because they could say, “Look at the agreement we have.”

Would you suggest that this massive influx of money from the federal government would help the Kielburger operation maintain their real estate assets at this time of financial crisis?

1:35 p.m.

Publisher, CANADALAND, As an Individual

Jesse Brown

Mr. Angus, again we're well outside of what our reporting has covered. I know that the WE organization themselves have said that they established this new entity in order to limit their liability, and I can't imagine that they would do anything if it were not in their interests.

If I can suggest something to committee, it is that these are very complicated dealings, and given the amount of public money involved, given the amount of charitable money raised by Canadians involved, Canadaland was happy to dedicate resources to breaking this story, as were other journalists and organizations such as Kate Behan's.

When we look into these things and try to make sense of them, which we're doing with everything we have, we are assuming the liability, with an organization that aggressively protects its reputation, makes legal threats and has a history of saying things to the media that are simply not true. I wonder at what point there are other authorities that might ask these questions, that might have powers to procure information which as an independent journalist I do not have.

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Thank you for that.

Mr. Singh, you say that you have a number of students ready to go, and you've been waiting six weeks for a response.

What I find concerning, besides the financial deals with the WE organization, is that we had two months, from April to the end of June, when this program was announced, to get this set up. We've been told by the government again and again that they were the only people who could do it, that they had all the skills and were set to go. Yet, when the deal between the government and WE was announced, they couldn't seem to take even the smallest amount of scrutiny before everybody panicked and bolted, and there was no program in place. In those two months, it should have been easy for the government to step in, because we have tens of thousands of students across the country waiting for work and we have organizations ready to work.

Why do you think an organization such as yours is still sitting waiting for students when we're now coming to almost the three-quarter mark of July and halfway through the summer?

1:40 p.m.

Executive Director, GlobalMedic

Rahul O. Singh

Thanks for the question. I'm going to try to bite my tongue here. I think there's some—