Evidence of meeting #47 for Finance in the 43rd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was cabinet.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Katie Telford  Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister, Office of the Prime Minister
Clerk of the Committee  Ms. Caroline Bosc

5:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

Thank you both.

We are turning to Mr. Cumming, followed by Ms. Koutrakis.

You have five minutes, James.

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

James Cumming Conservative Edmonton Centre, AB

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thank you, Ms. Telford, for being here today.

On which dates since March 1 did you communicate with Minister Morneau or his staff about WE?

5:30 p.m.

Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister, Office of the Prime Minister

Katie Telford

I don't know.... If you mean ahead of the cabinet meeting, I don't believe there were any dates.

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

James Cumming Conservative Edmonton Centre, AB

You had suggested before that you're aware of the Morneaus' connection with the daughter with the book, but I want to clarify that you were unaware of any travel that Minister Morneau might have taken or of family travel.

5:30 p.m.

Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister, Office of the Prime Minister

Katie Telford

That's right.

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

James Cumming Conservative Edmonton Centre, AB

Given what we know now with the Morneaus' direct involvement in this project, his failure to recuse himself and his illegally sponsored paid travel from the organization in question, do you think the minister should step down?

5:30 p.m.

Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister, Office of the Prime Minister

Katie Telford

I think some of the things you're saying have not been determined. I believe the Minister of Finance has already said that he wished he had recused himself. He's apologized for that and does not believe there is a conflict beyond that, but that is for the conflict commissioner to spend time on, and everyone has agreed to co-operate fully.

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

James Cumming Conservative Edmonton Centre, AB

When did you become aware of WE's April 9 proposal?

5:30 p.m.

Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister, Office of the Prime Minister

Katie Telford

The April 9 proposal—do you mean the Canada summer student grant proposal?

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

James Cumming Conservative Edmonton Centre, AB

No, that was their initial proposal about social entrepreneurship.

5:30 p.m.

Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister, Office of the Prime Minister

Katie Telford

Right. It was in a very large briefing package that we received on April 20 ahead of an April 21 briefing. It was annex 9 of that package when I looked back to get some of these things straight for all of you. That annex ultimately was never followed through on, and that proposal was turned down.

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

James Cumming Conservative Edmonton Centre, AB

What was contained in that large briefing package? What were the specifics in there?

5:30 p.m.

Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister, Office of the Prime Minister

Katie Telford

It was so large because that was the package that led to the $9-billion announcement by this government to support students. It included everything, and it was, again, being briefed on the 20th for an announcement that was coming within hours, not days.

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

James Cumming Conservative Edmonton Centre, AB

Related to that April 9 proposal, did anyone in the PMO communicate with Ministers Morneau, Chagger or Ng about that proposal?

5:30 p.m.

Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister, Office of the Prime Minister

Katie Telford

I'm sure that policy staff, as they do on every issue that comes up within the government, were talking to each other between ministers' offices.

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

James Cumming Conservative Edmonton Centre, AB

Can you provide the names of the staff members who were communicating regarding that proposal?

5:30 p.m.

Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister, Office of the Prime Minister

Katie Telford

Can I provide...? I'm here on their behalf, so I'm happy to take a question on it if you like.

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

James Cumming Conservative Edmonton Centre, AB

Would you know what level of communication there was regarding that proposal between those ministers' offices. Was it one person? Was it lots of chatter? What was the extent of the discussions with the other ministers' offices?

5:30 p.m.

Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister, Office of the Prime Minister

Katie Telford

That was a proposal that ultimately was not one that this government proceeded with and that the Prime Minister's Office did not approve, so there was obviously analysis done to that extent. There would have been conversations between the different ministers' offices to come to that determination.

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

James Cumming Conservative Edmonton Centre, AB

The issue there, though, is that they submitted a proposal and then, lo and behold, WE submits another proposal. Were there any instructions back to those departments or to WE to come back with a modified proposal?

5:30 p.m.

Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister, Office of the Prime Minister

Katie Telford

When the first proposal came through, in terms of the briefing note that I saw, it was actually recommended by our policy team to not proceed with that proposal. That was the total sum of the advice on that proposal—that we not proceed on it.

5:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

You have one last question, Mr. Cumming.

5:35 p.m.

Conservative

James Cumming Conservative Edmonton Centre, AB

When was the first time you communicated with Minister Ng about WE or the Kielburgers since March 1?

July 30th, 2020 / 5:35 p.m.

Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister, Office of the Prime Minister

Katie Telford

I don't believe we have communicated about WE or the Kielburgers in that time period at all.

5:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

You have time for one more, James. That was a quick question and a quick answer. Go ahead.