Evidence of meeting #45 for Finance in the 43rd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was sir.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Michelle Douglas  Former Chair of the Board of Directors, WE Charity, As an Individual
Clerk of the Committee  Ms. Caroline Bosc
Marc Kielburger  Founder, WE Charity
Craig Kielburger  Founder, WE Charity

2:35 p.m.

Founder, WE Charity

Craig Kielburger

I can say with confidence, sir, that we did not, and the senior-most leadership was not in touch with anyone in the government in March. That being said, sir, we will check more broadly in the organization if there were any touchpoints that took place.

2:35 p.m.

Conservative

James Cumming Conservative Edmonton Centre, AB

Okay, and in April did either of you or intermediaries communicate with any ministers?

2:35 p.m.

Founder, WE Charity

Craig Kielburger

Yes, sir. I'm happy to speak to that.

On April 7 there was a conversation with Minister Ng. It was a first-time, introductory phone call. It was the first time ever I spoke to her.

On April 9, as per that conversation, I sent her a proposal that we had previously created on youth entrepreneurship. That proposal was also forwarded to Minister Chagger, given that she has the portfolio for youth, and Minister Morneau, given that he is the Minister of Finance and our local MP.

I was in touch also, sir, with Minister Chagger in a phone conversation that took place.... I will get you that date, but it was sometime in the middle of April. It was to brief her on the conversation we had with Minister Ng on social entrepreneurship, not the CSSG, to be clear.

There was one conversation that also took place in April, a phone call from Minister Morneau, on the Sunday, the 25th or 26th. He called me asking a question about.... He said he was doing a series of phone calls checking in with businesses and non-profits on the impact.... And that call took place.... I will happily put this into writing for you, sir.

2:35 p.m.

Conservative

James Cumming Conservative Edmonton Centre, AB

In that conversation, you mean to tell me that there was no discussion around the student grant program? There was no discussion about the potential of your being involved with the student grant program?

2:35 p.m.

Founder, WE Charity

Craig Kielburger

Correct. However, sir, I will tell you that I did, during the conversation....

He called me to ask questions about, generally, our view of the non-profit sector and youth. I did raise with him the fact that we had spoken to Minister Ng and submitted a proposal to her on social entrepreneurship, helping youth create small businesses. To be very candid, it was a totally different thing.

Sir, to be very candid, at that point, we weren't very interested in the service proposal. At that point, we were trying to advance our own proposal. That was the one I did raise with him. We did not discuss the CSSG at all.

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

This will be the last question, Mr. Cumming.

2:35 p.m.

Conservative

James Cumming Conservative Edmonton Centre, AB

But you did raise that you put a proposal in front of another department, so you did raise that with Minister Morneau. This wasn't just a conversation about what's going on in the industry; there was a specific conversation about a proposal from WE.

2:35 p.m.

Founder, WE Charity

Craig Kielburger

Correct, sir. I would say that of the length of it, it was maybe two minutes; I mentioned it very quickly. But, yes, sir, I proactively did raise with him that we had submitted this to Minister Ng on April 9.

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

Thank you.

2:35 p.m.

Founder, WE Charity

Craig Kielburger

A different proposal, again, I have to underscore. Not an iterative...nothing to do with youth service; purely helping youth create businesses.

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

Okay, that's clear.

Mr. Fortin, I'm giving you back a couple of minutes due to technical difficulties.

Go ahead.

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Rhéal Fortin Bloc Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Mr. Kielburger, you said earlier that you hired Margaret Trudeau as a speaker because you considered her to be a mental health expert.

Am I to understand that no other mental health experts were available to take part in your conferences?

2:35 p.m.

Founder, WE Charity

Craig Kielburger

Sir, we have an entire foundation dedicated to mental health. We've created K-to-12 curricular resources on well-being—

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Rhéal Fortin Bloc Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Yes, but Margaret Trudeau—

2:35 p.m.

Founder, WE Charity

Craig Kielburger

She is one of the most famous people [Technical difficulty—Editor] who first broke through the issue of mental health in the public domain in Canada.

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Rhéal Fortin Bloc Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Would it be accurate to say that you hired Margaret Trudeau simply because she is Justin Trudeau's mother and former Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau's ex-wife?

2:40 p.m.

Founder, WE Charity

Craig Kielburger

I would say that those factors may have increased her brand recognition to the general public. But, sir, we hired her as one of the most known mental health advocates, if not the most well-known mental health advocate.

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Rhéal Fortin Bloc Rivière-du-Nord, QC

What is Mrs. Trudeau's educational background?

Academically speaking, what qualifies her to be a mental health speaker?

July 28th, 2020 / 2:40 p.m.

Founder, WE Charity

Craig Kielburger

Sir, we have a number of individuals with Ph.D.s we contract with, and on our staff, in the mental health—

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Rhéal Fortin Bloc Rivière-du-Nord, QC

I am talking about Margaret Trudeau.

2:40 p.m.

Founder, WE Charity

Craig Kielburger

We were looking to her to be a spokesperson to raise awareness on the subject. We have others who build the curriculum and can—

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Rhéal Fortin Bloc Rivière-du-Nord, QC

What studies qualify her?

2:40 p.m.

Founder, WE Charity

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Rhéal Fortin Bloc Rivière-du-Nord, QC

What experience, Mr. Kielburger?

2:40 p.m.

Founder, WE Charity

Craig Kielburger

Honestly, with great respect, sir, she has lived a life....

I have lost a sister-in-law from mental health issues. It's a lived experience issue; it's not an academic training issue. She has lived experience. One in five Canadians face this issue. To say that you have to have academic experience to speak on it, sir, with great respect—