But questions were revived when the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported that the charity had paid Trudeau’s mother and brother a total of C$282,000 ($298,000), for speaking engagements. The charity confirmed the information to The New York Times.
“The Prime Minister personally intervened to direct a billion-dollar program to a group that had paid his family almost $300k. Not in Venezuela. Not in Zimbabwe. In Canada,” tweeted Pierre Poilievre, a member of Parliament from the opposition Conservatives, demanding an emergency session to address the issue.
The episode threatens to tarnish Trudeau, who has only recently started to rebuild his image. His party narrowly won reelection last year after he was accused in an ethics investigation of trying to improperly influence a high-profile corporate criminal case.
In a statement, Trudeau’s office said the “Prime Minister’s relatives engage with a variety of organisations and support many personal causes on their own accord.” It urged Canadians to focus on the aid program, not on its administration.
“The Canada Student Service Grant program is about giving young people opportunities to contribute to their communities, not about benefits to anyone else,” Alex Wellstead, Trudeau’s press secretary, said in an email.
Trudeau has spoken at WE Charity events. His wife, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, has hosted a podcast connected to the charity about mental health, called WE Well-Being.
The charity’s press office said in an email that the prime minister and his wife had volunteered their time and were not paid, with one exception in 2012, when Sophie Trudeau received about $1000 for a speaking engagement. Trudeau was not prime minister at the time.
The New York Times