Weeks after the WE charity scandal, still no word on student grant program
By Matthew Fraser, Opinions Editor
I highly doubt that I am the only one who remembers that this is our Prime Minister’s third ethics violation, and as a student, I am certainly interested in an explanation as to why a new program has been delayed or otherwise sidelined.
In the months since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s most recent scandal, little has been cleared and much has been said; though he and the Kielburgers testified in front of Parliament, and a severely redacted report was released, no hard and conclusive answers have been found. As a result, the opposition parties of the NDP and the Conservatives have continued relentless questioning and serious scrutiny of the Trudeau family affairs. Despite an attempt by the Conservative party to create a new anti-corruption committee, the Liberal government has been able to shield itself behind COVID-19 efforts and the threat of calling an election in the face of “non-confidence.”
During a press conference held on October 13, PM Trudeau did his best to put the controversy to rest, saying: “We will continue to stay focused on what we need to do to support Canadians facing a very difficult time right now. The Conservatives continue to want to focus on WE Charity. So be it.” Yet the student grant program that formed the impetus for this scandal is dead and gone, with few options left for students. The Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) has been vocal with their disappointment with the poor adjustments from the Trudeau government after the collapse of Canada Student Service Grant. CFS Chairperson Sofia Descalzi points out the failings by simply stating: “Students want the same support as everyone else to help them through this pandemic. Instead, they’ve been met with patchwork programs.” In lieu of transferring the $900 million originally promised to the WE foundation, the Trudeau government has chosen to shamefully let it sit in the government’s coffers—neither expanding CESB nor working with other organizations to create a new and less corrupt program.
To make matters worse, in response to the Tories’ attempts to setup a more robust anti-corruption committee, the Liberal government has threatened election every time it couldn’t drag its feet. Granted, it’s quite possible that the committee will be formed solely for partisan reasons, but I do think that there are a lot of Canadians that want to see a fair bit of accounting for the decisions made. The sacrifice of Morneau may have kept a little skin on PM Trudeau’s behind, but it was not enough to assuage members of the public of any favouritism or corruption from the Trudeau government. I highly doubt that I am the only one who remembers that this is our Prime Minister’s third ethics violation, and as a student, I am certainly interested in an explanation as to why a new program has been delayed or otherwise sidelined. Even if the formation of this “anti-corruption committee” is partisan, its findings (and potential continued existence) are necessary for our democracy.
Every effort to filibuster and skirt the issue only makes PM Trudeau look more suspicious, and as much as I would like to put this scandal to rest with the snap of my fingers, I want to be confident that our leaders will be held to account for their actions and misdeeds. Some things should not be avoided or denied, especially in matters of credibility.