Evidence of meeting #51 for Finance in the 43rd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was youth.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Dalal Al-Waheidi  Executive Director, WE Charity
Scott Baker  Chief Operations Officer, WE Charity
Sofia Marquez  Former Staff Member, Government and Stakeholder Relations, WE Charity, As an Individual
John-Frederick Cameron  Chief Executive Officer, Katimavik

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

She's a public servant.

Again, just to make sure, have you communicated with anybody in the Prime Minister's Office since March 1?

August 13th, 2020 / 3:10 p.m.

Former Staff Member, Government and Stakeholder Relations, WE Charity, As an Individual

Sofia Marquez

Since March 1, I was only in communication with two people at the Prime Minister's Office. Allow me to make sure that I'm very clear. It was on May 5, with a staffer, a director of policy. His name is Rick Theis. I emailed as well another person. Her name is Laura Lebel.

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

On what date?

3:10 p.m.

Former Staff Member, Government and Stakeholder Relations, WE Charity, As an Individual

Sofia Marquez

That was on May....

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

Come back to it later in the meeting. We don't have time.

How long was your conversation with the PMO policy director on May 5?

3:15 p.m.

Former Staff Member, Government and Stakeholder Relations, WE Charity, As an Individual

Sofia Marquez

It was very brief. It was a very high-level conversation of about half an hour. It was a debrief of the current state of the proposal that had already been in the works with ESDC. We provided context as to the latest development on the proposal.

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

Did you get any assurance that WE Charity could begin implementing the proposal on May 5?

3:15 p.m.

Former Staff Member, Government and Stakeholder Relations, WE Charity, As an Individual

Sofia Marquez

Not at all.

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

How did WE think it was authorized to start implementing a government program if no one in the government had authorized you to do so on the 5th?

3:15 p.m.

Former Staff Member, Government and Stakeholder Relations, WE Charity, As an Individual

Sofia Marquez

That's a question that I cannot respond to. I was not involved in the contribution agreement negotiation process.

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

Okay, but there was no contribution agreement for another month and a half, so somebody told you over at WE that you could go and start spending money, hiring people and implementing the program. Who told you that?

3:15 p.m.

Former Staff Member, Government and Stakeholder Relations, WE Charity, As an Individual

Sofia Marquez

Again, I was not involved in those conversations. It would have been the executives at WE Charity who would have had.... I have no idea.

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

Was it Mrs. Al-Waheidi who told you that you could start implementing the program? Just the name, please.

3:15 p.m.

Executive Director, WE Charity

Dalal Al-Waheidi

We have worked with a few individuals within ESDC on the contribution agreement—

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

No, that's not my question. I'm sorry, I do have to cut you off. I'm not asking about the contribution agreement.

3:15 p.m.

Executive Director, WE Charity

Dalal Al-Waheidi

[Technical difficulty—Editor]

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

I have a point of order, Mr. Chair.

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

What's your point of order?

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

We are limited in time because the witnesses are planning to skedaddle out the door early. My question is not about the contribution agreement. It would not be concluded for another six weeks. My question is about who authorized them to start on the 5th.

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

That's not a point of order. It's a matter of debate. I don't think it's fair to say that the witnesses are skedaddling out the door. I'll not take the time away from you. They agreed to be here for an hour, and it's unfair to imply that.

Mrs. Al-Waheidi, complete your response, and we'll move on to Mr. Poilievre.

3:15 p.m.

Executive Director, WE Charity

Dalal Al-Waheidi

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

We started a conversation with ESDC about the contribution agreement and on the program design as of May 5. During that time it is not uncommon for contribution agreement negotiations for organizations to claim—

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

Okay. We'll go to Mr. Poilievre now.

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

Who told you that you could start implementing the program and spending money on May 5?

3:15 p.m.

Executive Director, WE Charity

Dalal Al-Waheidi

We were in negotiation about the program at that time.

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

I know that, but you began implementing the program on May 5. Somebody ought to have told you that you could do that. Who was it?