Radio and TV personality Evan Solomon asks a good question in this clip from 580CFRA radio.
The Kielburgers, he notes are neither newcomers nor naifs. Mark Kielburger is a Rhodes Scholar and Craig Kielburger has, he say, “been rubbing shoulders with politicians since he was 12 years old.” They have, Mr Solomon says, been selling the “halo effect” to politicians and other celebrities , a list which he tells us includes Justin Trudeau, Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey and Erin O’Toole …
… and the “halo effect” says, in effect, if you come out and make us look good then we, being a famous, big-league charity will make you look good, too. It’s all part of an astute marketing plan.
But then Evan Solomon gets to the real question: if Tylenol, he says, can survive a scandal in which people died then why are the Kielburgers reacting so dramatically to what is, really, on the surface, a minor league scandal? So the Kielburgers paid Margaret Trudeau a few hundred thousand dollars to make a few charity appearances, is that such a big deal? I mean the Trudeaus are wealthy, aren’t they? They can’t be bought, can they? Well, most if us don’t have million dollar plus trust funds and most of us didn’t earn $450,000 in speaking fees in a year, but the Trudeau family is unlikely to have just forgotten about $250,000 in speaking fees paid to Margaret Trudeau. Bill Morneau may have forgotten about owning a villa in France, but unlike the Trudeaus, Mr Morneau is rich … really rich. So are the Kielburgers. The commercial property part of their WE empire, alone, is worth $50 Million. Could a few thousands dollars per appearance (she made 28 over four years, about one every couple of months) paid to Margaret Trudeau really threaten the entire WE empire?
WE is a global concern. It is big and rich and growing. A great many people believe that it does good and important work around the world. But it started and grew here in Canada, it was the Kielburger’s baby. Now it’s leaving Canada and the Kielburger’;s say that they are leaving it. Maybe it is necessary to abandon Canada, because of a minor-league scandal, to save the global WE Charity brand … or maybe, as Evan Solomon suggests, there are still unanswered questions.
What about, for example, the WE commercial enterprises here in Canada? What about ME to WE; WE365 GP; WE365 Holdings; ME to WE Trips; ME to WE Shop; the ME to WE Foundation; Me to WE Asset Holdings; WE Charity Foundation; the WEllbeing Foundation; 2569144 Ontario; ME to WE Consumables and others? Are they closing shop? Are the Kielburgers abandoning them, too?
My guess, and that’s all it is, is that there is real fear in the WE boardrooms and in WE’s legal department that Prime Minister Trudeau might be guilty of something more than just conflict of interest. Someone like Pierre Poilievre or the Lobbying Commissioner, for example, might think that further, deeper investigations are needed and those questions might lead investigators to look more deeply into why and how Justin Trudeau and the Kielburger brothers, themselves, cooked up the idea of WE Charity running a multi-hundred-million-dollar government programme and then trying to cover-up the whole thing.
Might those questions be enough to bring Justin Trudeau down?
Might those questions be enough to threaten the Kielburgers’ fortunes, even their freedom?