What does it say that for the second time in a year the RCMP are investigating the Trudeau government?
The Mounties told Global News Wednesday evening that they were looking into the government’s handling of the WE Charity contract — a fact they confirmed to me on Thursday.
“The RCMP is examining this matter carefully with all available information and will take appropriate actions as required. It would be inappropriate for us to provide anymore further comments on this matter at this time,” the national police force said.
Exactly what and who is being looked at the police won’t say, but they are obviously looking to see if there was more than just an ethics breach.
Back in early July, the Conservatives sent a letter to RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki citing the hundreds of thousands of dollars paid by WE Charity to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s family as a reason for the police to investigate.
“I encourage the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to investigate the possibility of criminal offences arising from these disturbing facts,” Conservative MP Michael Barrett said in the July 10 letter. “You and the very able members of the national police force possess the necessary skills, expertise and tools to get to the bottom of this.”
Barrett and his fellow Conservatives specifically cited section 121 of the Criminal Code as a possible infraction. That section makes it an offence to directly or indirectly accept “a loan, reward, advantage or benefit of any kind as consideration for cooperation, assistance, exercise of influence or an act or omission” in the conduct of government business. The section applies to someone who accepts or demands such benefits or themselves or their family members.
Last year, the Trudeau government was under investigation over claims of obstruction of justice in the SNC-Lavalin scandal.
The Mounties met with former Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould in early September.
Just days later Trudeau called an election earlier than expected, forcing the RCMP to put their investigation on hold during the campaign period. While the RCMP refuse to comment, it has been confirmed that the investigation did resume after the election was over.
So that means two police investigations into the Trudeau government, over and above the other organizations and government bodies looking into their actions.
In case you forgot, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development that Bill Morneau said he wants to head up after resigning as finance minister this week said last year that their anti-corruption was monitoring the SNC-Lavalin situation.
That’s quite the record for any government.
Supporters of the prime minister say there is nothing to the WE Scandal, that it’s nothing more than false complaints from opposition parties whipped up by the media. It’s hard to argue that claim with a straight face when you look at the long list of investigations looking into how the government handled the WE contract.
Prior to prorogation there were four House of Commons committees — finance, ethics, official languages and government operations — all conducting hearings on the matter.
You could dismiss those as partisan but not so the ethics commissioner, privacy commissioner, procurement ombudsman, Elections Canada and most likely the lobbying commissioner — they can’t confirm investigations. Now we can add the RCMP to this list.
Corruption is a word thrown around far too much in politics. Not every politician is corrupt and no party has a lock on corruption.
That said, when Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party is facing this many investigations —including two by the police — then corruption is clearly a problem for this government.
What investigations are underway?
Mario Dion has already stated that he has launched investigations into both Prime Minister Trudeau and Bill Morneau. Despite Morneau stepping down as finance minister and MP, Dion’s office has stated that a report will be made public.
The privacy commissioner has been asked to examine and file a report into the handling of personal data supplied by Canadians when applying for the Canada Student Service Grant. The agreement between the government and WE stated the government would not own the data, that it was the property of WE. The terms of service of the website have clauses regarding use of the data that are unlikely to meet the requirement of the federal government.
Elections Canada has been asked to investigate the production and distribution of a campaign-style video created by WE but featuring Justin Trudeau. The video stayed online during the last election campaign which likely means, based on past precedent, that Trudeau was in violation of the Elections Act for not declaring the video a campaign expense and paying for it.
This office is tasked with ensuring that contracts are awarded fairly through the federal government. The office has confirmed to Postmedia that it is conducting a review of WE Charity contracts including several sole sourced contracts under $40,000 that were granted prior to this scandal.
The federal lobbying commissioner is not allowed to state whether an investigation is underway. That said, given the sudden registration of 18 WE Charity employees as lobbyists and the recording of 43 different contacts with government retroactive to earlier this year, there is a very good chance that the commissioner has launched an investigation.
The RCMP have now confirmed two distinct investigations into the Trudeau government. One for WE and one into the SNC-Lavalin affair.
House of Commons Committees
Prior to prorogation the WE scandal was being investigated by the finance committee, the ethics committee, the government operations committee and the official languages committee.