UNIS co-founders defend the integrity of their organization

According to Marc and Craig Kielburger, the organization UNIS (WE Charity in English) is a non-partisan organization who has worked several times in the past with Ottawa and the governments of several provinces for the sole purpose of improving the lives of young Canadians.

Sussex, Craig Kielburger told committee members. Over the years, thousands of stories have been told on the WE Days stage. “,” Text “:” We have welcomed politicians from all parties to the UNITED Days stage, including Conservative MP Mike Lake and Rachel Notley, Premier of Alberta. Laurena Harper [épouse de Stephen Harper] also hosted one of our sessions at 24Sussex, Craig Kielburger told committee members. Over the years, thousands of stories have been told on the UNIS Days stage. “}}” Lang = “fr”>We welcomed politicians from all parties to the WE Days stage, including Conservative MP Mike Lake and Rachel Notley, Premier of Alberta. Laurena Harper [épouse de Stephen Harper] also hosted one of our sessions at 24 Sussex, Craig Kielburger told committee members. Over the years, thousands of stories have been told on the WE Days stage.

We were chosen because we could use our 25 years of experience to build this program at full speed and thus have a positive impact on young Canadians over the summer.

Craig Kielburger, co-founder of UNIS

Questioned closely by Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre on a statement that they called Justin Trudeau’s office on April 23 in connection with UNIS obtaining the management of the Canada Student Volunteer Grant (BCBE), Marc and Craig Kielburger replied that this call never took place.

To MP Poilièvre who quoted newspaper articles reporting on conversations in 2017 between the Kielburgers and Prime Minister Trudeau as part of the celebrations for Canada’s 150th birthday in particular, Craig Kielburger repeated that neither he nor his brother had never received such a call.

I can tell you with certainty that neither Marc nor I in 25 years have received a call from a Prime Minister on this subject.

Craig Kielburger, co-founder of UNIS

Honoraria paid to members of the Trudeau family

With regard to fees that were paid by UNIS to the Prime Minister’s brother, Alexandre Trudeau, to his wife Sophie Grégoire Trudeau and to his mother Margaret Trudeau for their participation in the organization’s public activities, the Kielburgers have recognized this fact.

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Asked about the total amounts that have been paid to the Trudeaus over the years, the Kielburger brothers said they had not worked out the calculation of these amounts, but promised to do so for the committee, later.

Margaret Trudeau speaks to the public at a We Day event in Toronto, September 20, 2018.

Photo: The Canadian Press / Christopher Katsarov

The Kielburger brothers were notably questioned on the links they have with Justin Trudeau and his Minister of Finance, Bill Morneau, as well as on the obtaining by UNIS without call for tenders of the management of the BCBE of a value of over $ 500 million.

The deal has since been canceled due to controversy sparked by the fact that many members of the government, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Finance Minister Bill Morneau, maintain privileged links with UNIS.

The program, initially valued at $ 912 million and then revised down to $ 500 million, according to documents released Monday, could have allowed UNIS to pocket up to $ 43.5 million.

Marc and Craig Kielburger said they accepted the contract in order to help young Canadians, not to make a profit.

Craig Kielburger has denied rumors that WE Charity was in financial difficulty when the contract was accepted. Some have suggested that WE Charity was in dire financial straits before [le contrat offert par Ottawa] and that this motivated our actions. This is simply not true.

Lobbyists or not?

Led by NDP MP Charlie Angus to clarify that their organization’s practices are akin to lobbying and that they are not listed in the federal lobbyists registry, the Kielburger brothers explained that all charities people around the world rely on the participation of well-known personalities, politicians and artists to increase their visibility and generate donations.

According to Charlie Angus, the two brothers could not ignore that by inviting and paying members of the Trudeau family, they placed the government in a situation of conflict of interest.

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The founders of UNIS replied that their organization is not a private company that lobbies the government, but a charity whose all revenues are directly injected into the works and projects they defend.

A resignation caused by a lack of transparency

Before the testimony of the Kielburger brothers, former president of the board of directors of UNIS, Michelle Douglas, explained that she had resigned on March 27 after having come up against the opacity of its leaders.

UNIS was considering major layoffs due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the organization’s leadership refused repeated requests from a special C.A. committee, which it had created to monitor the case.

According to her, management said they had daily reports on the state of UNIS’s finances, and this information had to be disclosed to see if the layoffs were justified, but to no avail.

I quit because I couldn’t do my job. I could not fulfill my duty of governance.

Michelle Douglas, ex-president of the C.A. of the UNIS movement

Ms. Douglas conceded that closing schools and difficulty securing sponsors could create financial problems, but said she was never told UNIS was in financial difficulty.

We believed that it was not possible to fire hundreds of employees without concrete evidence and that we still needed to study mitigation efforts to save jobs.

Rather, the management team was laying off employees in large numbers, and very quickly, said Mrs. Douglas. According to her, about 400 of UNIS’s 1,000 employees were ultimately laid off.

Ms Douglas said she resigned prematurely at the behest of Craig Kielburger at the end of March. Two days earlier, a telephone conversation in which C.A.’s request for more information from the management team was discussed had occurred. concluded abruptly.

The former C.A. president also indicated that the board of directors was never informed that people who spoke at events called We Day, bringing together young people across the country, were paid.

However, it appears that the Prime Minister’s mother and brother, Margaret and Alexandre Trudeau, pocketed nearly $ 300,000 for their appearances to events of the organization.

I’m not sure exactly why they got paid, but if it was exclusively for speaking on the WE Day stage, I’d be surprised.

Michelle Douglas, ex-president of the C.A. of the UNIS movement

She could not say whether UNIS would have been able to manage the Canada Student Volunteer Grant program, the program having been implemented after her departure.

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A series of revelations that embarrass the government

After the contract awarded to UNIS was canceled on July 3, Mr. Trudeau and Mr. Morneau in turn conceded that they should have withdrawn from Cabinet discussions because of their ties to the organization. The Ethics Commissioner, Mario Dion, is investigating the matter.

The Prime Minister has often appeared at UNIS events, but claims to have never been paid, unlike his mother, his brother and his wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau. The latter is an ambassador for the organization and hosts a podcast on its behalf.

Two daughters of Minister Morneau also work for UNIS at present. In addition, other members of the government, including Mr. Trudeau’s Chief of Staff, Katie Telford, and Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan, raised funds for the organization.

According to documents released Monday by the Commons finance committee, UNIS claims to have started work on the project on May 5, when Cabinet Trudeau had not yet approved the program, the broad outlines of which had been announced on May 22. April.

Mr. Trudeau and Ms. Telford to testify before the Commons finance committee on Thursday to give their side of the story in this case which has monopolized attention for a month now in Ottawa.

The story gained momentum last week after Minister Morneau announced he had just finished reimburse UNIS over $ 41,000 for two trips that her family did in 2017, in Kenya and Ecuador. He apologized and pleaded the error in good faith.

The Kielburger brothers also confirmed to the finance committee that they had received Bill Morneau’s check and invoiced him for this trip the day before his appearance before the finance committee, on July 21.

Instead, in a media statement, UNIS argued that Mr. Morneau was graciously invited to these two countries as a philanthropist, in the hope of securing donations afterwards. Mr. Morneau’s family did in fact donate $ 100,000 to the organization afterwards.

In the wake of this revelation, the Conservative Party and the Bloc Québécois called for the resignation of MM. Trudeau and Morneau.

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