Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced on Wednesday July 22 that he had reimbursed more than $ 41,000 (25,800 euros) in travel expenses, paid for by an association at the heart of an investigation by the Ethics Commissioner aimed at Justin Trudeau.
Mr. Morneau explained that he had reimbursed this money to the WE Charity association (UNIS, in French) the same morning, during a statement at the beginning of the afternoon before the Finance Committee of the House of Commons .
On the same day, the Prime Minister’s Office announced that Justin Trudeau would also testify before this committee, as demanded by the opposition, on a date to be determined.
The Federal Ethics Commissioner has opened an investigation into MM. Trudeau and Morneau after the government awarded a major contract to the UNIS / WE Charity association to manage a nearly $ 1 billion student scholarship program, despite the links between the families of the two leaders and the association.
This program has since been withdrawn, without ending the controversy.
The conservative opposition demands his resignation
UNIS had admitted having paid nearly 300,000 dollars (189,000 euros) to the mother and brother of Mr. Trudeau for speeches in recent years. Mr. Trudeau’s wife is said to have received $ 1,500 (around $ 1,000) for an event in 2012, before Mr. Trudeau became leader of the Liberal Party.
Mr. Morneau, for his part, admitted that two of his daughters collaborate with the association, one of them as an employee.
The check sent Wednesday by Mr. Morneau was intended to reimburse expenses related to two humanitarian trips in which he and his family participated in 2017. The minister assured that it was an expense which he did not have knowledge, the association never having presented the invoice to him. He admitted that he should have checked on his own. “I want to apologize for this mistake”, he said in front of the deputies.
Unconvinced by his arguments, surprised that he had reimbursed these trips just hours before his deposition in the Commons, the conservative opposition immediately called for his resignation.
Justin Trudeau has already been pinned twice since 2017 by the Ethics Commissioner for breaking the conflict of interest law.