Trudeau's appearance before committee may not shed new light on WE controversy, experts say

Posted In: News Date:Jul 30th, 2020

A prime minister's appearance before a House of Commons committee is a rare event in Canadian politics — but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's date with the finance committee today might not shed much light on the WE Charity controversy, experts say.

Only a few serving prime ministers have ever testified before a parliamentary committee. On most of those occasions, the PM appeared before a committee to answer questions on routine matters such as government spending — not to be grilled over a potential ethics breach.

"Generally speaking, prime ministers do not appear at committees for any reason, and it's been incredibly rare for prime ministers to be summoned in this way to defend themselves," said Mike Morden, research director for The Samara Centre for Democracy.

Trudeau will be in the hot seat for one hour beginning at 3 p.m. ET today to answer questions about the government's decision to select WE Charity to run the federal government's $900 million student volunteer program. The prime minister did not recuse himself from cabinet discussions on the aid program, despite the fact that members of his family had been paid to speak at WE events.