Outgoing Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should resign over his role in the controversy involving the WE organization.
Scheer has previously called for Finance Minister Bill Morneau to be fired for trips he and members of his family took in 2017, part of which were paid for by WE Charity.
“In the past, just being under investigation was enough for members of Parliament to step aside, put their country ahead of their own ego, ahead of their own political careers, step aside and allow the work that government must continue to do to proceed without that cloud of suspicion,” Scheer told reporters Friday in Regina.
“None of that has happened under Justin Trudeau so that’s why this conversation is turning to stricter penalties.”
In what appears to be an attempt to drive a wedge between Trudeau and members of his own caucus, Scheer now says Liberal MPs who do not want to be seen as complicit in this controversy should demand that their leader quit.
“Liberal MPs have a choice to make: are they prepared to sacrifice their personal integrity to protect their scandal-plagued leader and to cover up corruption or are they willing to take a stand and demand that Trudeau step aside?” he said.
“If the Liberals refuse to act, if they sit on their hands and say nothing, then they are implicitly approving of this corrupt behaviour and they will be just as guilty as Justin Trudeau is.”
When asked if he would be willing to force an election over the issue in the minority Parliament, Scheer said such an opportunity will not come until the House of Commons resumes full business in September, which he says is why Trudeau and Morneau should leave now of their own accord.
He also says a decision about seeking to defeat the Liberal government on a confidence motion should be made by the next leader of the party after results of the Conservative leadership contest are announced in late August.
Scheer dismissed the suggestion that replacing Trudeau and Morneau in the middle of a pandemic would create further uncertainty in the country.
“It would allow the government to move on, past these scandals, and focus on improving the lives of Canadians,” he said.
On Wednesday, Morneau told a Commons committee he had just repaid WE Charity more than $41,000 for expenses the group covered for trips his family took to Kenya and Ecuador in 2017 to see some of its humanitarian work. He said he had always planned to personally cover those amounts.
WE said the Morneau family trips were meant to be complimentary, part of a practice of showing donors WE’s work to encourage them to give more.
Both Morneau and Trudeau are facing an ethics investigation for not recusing themselves during discussions about awarding WE a deal to run the government’s $912-million program that would pay students grants of up to $5,000 based on the hours they volunteer.
Trudeau and Morneau have apologized for not declaring possible conflicts because of their familial ties to the organization — Trudeau because of speaking fees paid to his brother, mother and wife, and Morneau because one of his daughters is nearing the end of a one-year contract in an administrative role.
Teresa Wright, The Canadian Press
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