Campbell Clark, writing in the Globe and Mail, says that “You might have thought that everything about the WE Charity agreement would become clear once we heard from the civil servant who recommended that the organization handle a student grant program … [but] … she testified before a Commons committee on Thursday, and yet it still wasn’t really clear what was the genesis of the whole business. Or even if WE Charity’s involvement really started with her.“
“Rachel Wernick, an assistant deputy minister with Employment and Social Development Canada,” he explains, “said she is the person who recommended that the student service grants be administered by a third party, and that it be WE. And that’s what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been saying: that the public service came up with the idea … [but, another but] … somehow, it wasn’t the straightforward answer that cleared things up … [because] … We learned, for example, that before Ms. Wernick sounded out WE about potential pandemic programs for youth, the charity had already circulated a proposal for a different project to cabinet ministers – a proposal that was rapidly tweaked to fit the student service grant idea … [and then] … we heard the minister that brought the project to cabinet, Bardish Chagger, dodge questions about whether her aides were discussing it with the Prime Minister’s Office before it went to cabinet, giving answers in lawyerly language. “I did not personally have those conversations,” she said.“
Brian Lilley, writing in the Toronto Sun, is even more specific: “The only way that you can possibly believe that it was the public service and the public service alone who came up with the idea of giving WE Charity a nearly $1-billion sole-sourced contract,” he says, “is if you plug your ears and ignore Thursday’s testimony at the House of Commons finance committee. Sure,” he writes, “Bardish Chagger, minister for diversity and inclusion and youth, tried to claim it was all the idea of the civil service …[and] … She even named Rachel Wernick — a top bureaucrat at Employment and Social Development Canada — as the person who made the decision to pick WE Charity … [but] … Wernick says WE pitched ministers before she had heard of the idea … [saying] … “They had already provided to several officials and ministers, a proposal related to social entrepreneurship for youth and indicated it could be adapted as needed,” Wernick told the committee in her opening statement … [then] … Under questioning, Wernick said the proposal had been sent to several ministers, including Chagger and Mary Ng, minister for small business.“
Campbell Clark says, and I agree, that “It sounds oddly like other people in the government were working with WE even before Ms. Wernick got involved.“
My guess (and that’s all it is, just the notion of an old, retired, outsider, trying (failing?) to look into the always opaque world of the senior bureaucracy) is that the entire notion of a programme to pay young people to volunteer ~ isn’t “paid volunteer” some sort of oxymoron like “military intelligence” and “Liberal ethics?” ~ was cooked up by a handful of people …
… including Justin Trudeau, himself, and, certainly, Craig Keilburger, Bill Morneau and Marc Kielburger, possibly advised, behind the scenes by e.g. Bill Morneau’s adopted daughter Grace Acan, a contract employee of the WE charity, or, perhaps, by Clare Morneau, his other daughter, and/or Alexandre ‘Sasha’ Trudeau, both of whom have close ties to the Kielburgers and to the WE charity. The personal links between the Kielburgers and the Trudeaus and the Morneaus are many and deep.
The whole programme smacks of being a Liberal vote-buying, scheme to send cheques to tens of thousands of twenty-somethings who would, then, be inclined to come out and vote for the Team Trudeau Liberals in a snap, fall election.
My sense is that Rachel Wernick is the “messenger” who can be safely shot, as was her brother Michael Wernick at the end of the SNC-Lavalin scandal, after carrying the right message to its intended recipient, in this care a parliamentary committee. In Micheal Wernick’s case, the recipient was Jody Wilson-Raybould and another committee and he delivered the message even though it meant the end of his career as an apolitical civil servant. Ms Wernick has, faithfully, carried Team Trudeau‘s message to Parliament and the public. It seems pretty clear to me that Parliament, as represented by Pierre Poilievre, at least, and the public, as represented by Campbell Calrk and Brian Lilley are unimpressed.
I believe Ms Wernick’s explanations of the tight time scales and overworked bureaucrats and so on … I also believe that a lot more digging needs to be done into the whole process that led to Ms Wernick’s involvement which I suspect comes near the end, not the beginning of all this. We know, for example, from another Globe and Mail report, that just “Hours after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a $912-million student volunteer program on April 22, WE Charity co-founder Craig Kielburger sent the senior civil servant responsible for the program an unsolicited pitch to run the initiative. It seems quite clear, to me, that this project was “in the mill,” in the PMO and in the WE charity’s offices long before Ms Wernick become involved.
There are too many unanswered questions. We will not get near the truth, I fear, until we hear, directly, from Justin Trudeau, Bill Morneau, the Kielburgers and, perhaps, Clare Morneau and Alexandre Trudeau and others … all under oath in front of a formal judicial inquiry.