Jul 20, 2020
Andrew Scheer Press Conference Transcript on Justin Trudeau WE Charity Scandal
Canadian Parliament member Andrew Scheer held a press conference on July 20. He criticized Prime Minister Trudeau for avoiding questions on the WE Charity scandal by not appearing in Parliament. Read the transcript here.
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Andrew Scheer: (00:13)
Good morning, everyone. Today, the House of Commons will sit to debate the government’s new COVID-19 legislation. Conservatives support getting help to Canadians who are struggling. We have been proposing solutions to fix the wage subsidy since April. It is now the middle of July, and instead of implementing our changes to help businesses and workers, the Trudeau liberals are making things worse. The liberals new wage subsidy is a complex web of rules and regulations that will trap businesses, and paperwork, and accounting fees, making it harder for them to get the help they need. This is further proof of the fact that Justin Trudeau has no plan to help Canadians get back on their feet or to restart our economy.
Andrew Scheer: (01:04)
Now, I plan to ask the prime minister about his lack of a plan today. I also plan to ask him about his $900 million scandal, and ask him when he would be appearing at committee to testify, but instead of showing up to answer questions, as he said he would last week, he’s taking a personal day today. He chose the date at which the House of Commons would convene, and he’s not showing up for work today. Now, Justin Trudeau cannot hide from the scandal. He didn’t make a mistake. He made a choice to hand almost a billion dollars to a charity that has paid multiple members of his immediate family almost $300,000, an organization that employees immediate family members of the finance ministers family, and that has close ties to the liberal party.
Andrew Scheer: (02:03)
This is the kind of scandal you would expect to hear in a corrupt country halfway across the globe, not in a G7 country like Canada. But, given the prime minister’s history, it’s not really that surprising. [foreign language 00:02:19].
Justin Trudeau is the only prime minister in Canada’s history to have been found guilty of breaking [crosstalk 00:02:29]. The first time because he accepted a paid vacation on a [crosstalk 00:02:50] island. The second time because he used his power and that of his office to circumvent, undermine, the credibility and lastly discredit the Former Attorney General Judy Woodson [crosstalk 00:02:56]. But now, he’s under investigation for the third time for rewarding an organization that paid [crosstalk 00:03:03].
Andrew Scheer: (03:04)
The Trudeau’s have appeared in, participated in and financially benefited from dozens of WE events, since Justin Trudeau became prime minister. Each time they were given a platform to promote their personal brand and the liberal party’s policies. Now we know they also got paid. Meanwhile, WE, the organization, has received multiple sole sourced government contracts, the latest worth, almost a billion dollars. That raises serious questions about the Trudeau government’s relationship with WE. Almost a billion dollars, no competition, no oversight and no accountability. Sorry, just isn’t going to cut it. [foreign language 00:03:48].
That is why the conservatives have written to the CMP commissioner to request a criminal investigation. We have also written to the auditor general on procurement advancement asking for an investigation according to their respective mandates.
Andrew Scheer: (04:04)
Thanks for the hard work of conservatives, two parliamentary committees are investigating. It should have been three, but liberal MPs on the ethics committee, decided to help cover up Justin Trudeau’s latest ethics violations and blocked a vote on Friday, that would have launched further committee meeting.s that is shameful. And I hope that they are held accountable by each one of their constituents in the next election.
Andrew Scheer: (04:33)
Justin Trudeau cannot be allowed to sweep this latest scandal under the rug. Just last week at the finance committee, we learned that WE charity cabinet ministers lobbied cabinet ministers to adopt a proposal where before the Canada Student Service Grant was ever created. We also learned that WE is not registered to lobby the government. Shortly after that, the prime minister personally announced the new program. We were told that we immediately, in fact, on the same day submitted a revised proposal, which cabinet ultimately approved. That’s not normal. And the government cannot use the pandemic as an excuse. [Foreign Language 00:05:17].
Justin Trudeau uses the power of his office to get rich, reward his friend and silence criticisms. Canadians have lots of questions about the $900 million scandal concerning Justin Trudeau and his advances.
Andrew Scheer: (05:34)
Canadians deserve to know who suggested to WE that they submit their original proposal. Who told WE about the announcement and what they would have to do to make their proposal fit the new parameters. Why was WE the only organization considered? Did ministers know about the financial relationships between the Trudeau family, the Morneau family and the WE organization? Would that have changed their position on awarding the organization almost a billion dollar contract.
Andrew Scheer: (06:07)
Do other ministers, or their family members have financial relationships with WE charity? Why did the prime minister and the finance minister not recused themselves from the cabinet decision? Was the prime minister where that red flags had been raised about WEs financial dealings. Was he aware that WE has amassed $43 million in real estate holdings in downtown Toronto? These are all questions that must be answered during the course of the many investigations. [foreign language 00:06:44].
The Trudeau government must immediately hand over all documents concerning this contract. We know how the prime minister uses power in the past to hide the truth from Canadians who would not let this go. Conservatives will not stop until Canadians get questions.
Andrew Scheer: (07:02)
Thank you very much. Happy to take your questions.
Speaker 1: (07:05)
We’ll now take some questions, starting with questions on the phone. Quick reminder to report, one question one follow up. [foreign language 00:07:10].
Speaker 2: (07:09)
Thank you, [foreign language 00:07:21]. Please press star one at this time if you have a question. [foreign language 00:07:24].
Speaker 2: (07:29)
The first question is from Catherine [foreign language 00:00:07:32] Please go ahead. [foreign language 00:07:36].
Speaker 3: (07:34)
[foreign language 00:07:41], Mr. Scheer [crosstalk 00:07:39].
Good morning Mr. Scheer. I’m seeking clarification because [crosstalk 00:07:52] will not be supporting C-20 today.
Andrew Scheer: (07:52)
[foreign language 00:07:47].
We are supporting measure in the bill to support people living with disabilities.
Andrew Scheer: (07:52)
[foreign language 00:07:58].
We supported this program in June, and we are supporting…
Andrew Scheer: (08:01)
… supported this program in June and we’re supporting it today. We have concerns about aspects of the bill that concern the wage subsidy. It’s very complex, you need a degree in mathematics to understand all the underpinnings of the wage subsidy program. In the coming days, we shall try to have the government adopt the ideas to simplify the program. We want to make sure that aid to people living with disabilities is adopted.
Speaker 4: (08:44)
It’s not yet clear whether you are going to be adopting it or not.
Andrew Scheer: (08:50)
We have major concerns around the wage subsidy. We’ve highlighted ideas to make it simpler. You need a degree in mathematics to fully understand all the permutations and combinations that they’ve come up with. We need to get help out the door to businesses or many people who are not being able to go back to work because their businesses can’t afford to pay the salaries as they reopen their places of work. We’ve called on the government to make those measures simpler, and I would remind Canadians that we identified the gaps in these Liberal programs in April. It’s now towards the end of July and they still aren’t getting it right.
Andrew Scheer: (09:31)
So we support the measures of the bill that will get help to people with disabilities. We supported that in June, we tried to get the government to fast track the adoption of those programs in June. We’ve since put pressure on the government to make the support for people with disabilities more expansive so that more people with disabilities will get help, including disabled veterans. So we certainly support those measures and we are going to use the next couple of days to try to get the government to make the wage subsidy portion of the bill simpler.
Speaker 4: (10:04)
That there could be a vote today, would you be voting for or against? MY final question, you must have seen the way of anonymous demonstrations regarding sexual misconduct in Quebec. If [inaudible 00:10:26] is the target of these anonymous allegations, what would you do as a party if one of your MPs were the subject of such allegations?
Andrew Scheer: (10:39)
We have a processes, we take such allegations seriously. We will make sure that allegations are dealt with seriously. It is important to create a space that allows the process for victims and for allegations to be managed. When I was speaker of the House of Commons, we adapted the system for managing such allegations. I note that some Liberal ministers declared that they believe victims but they’re sitting by Prime Minister who himself was accused but they are all silent. I find this hypocritical by members of the Liberal government.
Speaker 5: (11:45)
Operator, next question.
Speaker 6: (11:50)
Thank you. [foreign language 00:11:45]. The next question [foreign language 00:11:48] [Andrew Lathan 00:11:49] from [True North 00:11:50] [foreign language 00:11:51], please go ahead.
Anderew Lathan: (11:55)
Good morning, Mr. Scheer? Regarding the prime minister facing ethics and conflict of interest for investigations, we’ve been down this road before on several occasions, he has been found, as you know, to contravene these rules. And now that there is a probe into the WE scandal, I guess the question remains, are we not going to have the same thing happen where there’s a small fine, perhaps even a finding but then nothing comes from there? Do you think there needs to be a revamping and a reforming of the teeth, for lack of a better term, that this body in this office have?
Andrew Scheer: (12:28)
Well, I would say yes, you are correct that we’ve been down this road before. We’ve had very serious allegations against the primary. She’s been found guilty, in fact twice, of breaking ethics rules. The last time when it was his attempt to influence the decision of the independent attorney general of Canada, he refused to cooperate with the investigation. The ethics commissioner himself said that not all the cabinet conferences were waived and at least nine witnesses were prevented from providing full testimony. So when Justin Trudeau says things like he’s going to comply with this investigation, don’t believe him. He said he’d be here this week to answer questions in the House of Commons and he’s not showing up today. It used to be that being found guilty of an ethics violation was enough for ministers to resign, that obviously doesn’t hold true in the Liberal Party of Canada.
Andrew Scheer: (13:26)
I would challenge Liberal members of parliament to do the right thing. They received more seats, they won more seats in the last election so that party has the right to govern in a minority parliament, but nothing says that they have to keep Justin Trudeau on as their leader. And as he goes down this road as more and more information comes to light about his unethical behavior, each and every one of them has a choice to make as to whether or not they allow him to continue to lead their party despite the cloud hanging over his head. So if they don’t, if they allow him to continue, if they don’t demand that he resign, then they are telling Canadians that they are comfortable with his corruption. So that will be a choice for Canadians to make in the next election.
Anderew Lathan: (14:09)
You’re leaving that decision right now to the Liberals. It’s currently an opposition-controlled House of Commons. You’re the leader of the official opposition. Why not introduce a motion if you feel that there is such a lack of confidence for Justin Trudeau in the house?
Andrew Scheer: (14:25)
Well, as you know, we are in a unique period of time for our parliament and for the country. I am [inaudible 00:14:33] on as leader while the party selects a new leader. So the next leader will be able to make those types of decisions as to what they want the official opposition to do in the House of Commons. In the meantime, we’re focused on getting programs improved for the benefit of Canadians to ensure that they get the help they need during this very difficult time.
Speaker 4: (14:54)
Operator, next question.
Speaker 6: (14:57)
Please press *1 at this time if you have a question. [foreign language 00:07:00]. There are no further questions. We do have a question from [inaudible 00:15:10] [foreign language 00:07:10]. Please go ahead. [foreign language 00:07:15]. Sorry, please go ahead.
Thank you. Hi, it’s Monica. I’m wondering what more your party plans to do if you’re saying that the prime minister is hiding right now, what specifically can you do to push for more accountability on the WE controversy?
Andrew Scheer: (15:39)
Well, unfortunately, the chiro liberals have taken away a lot of the tools that the opposition normally has to hold them to account by eliminating parliamentary sittings in May and June, we lost the ability to have opposition to emotions and questions on the order paper and things like that. The normal tools that opposition parties are given to ensure that governments are held accountable. We’re going to use-
Andrew Scheer: (16:03)
… that governments are held accountable. We’re going to use every tool at our disposal at the various committees where we’ve started these investigations, when we are able to do things like put forward motions in the House again. There have been instances in the past where the House has adopted motions to compel Members of Parliament, including Cabinet Ministers, to testify at committee. So those are some of the things that we’ll be looking at when we have those tools back at our disposal.
Andrew Scheer: (16:27)
In the meantime, we’re going to appeal to cadence to put pressure on liberal Members of Parliament, to get them to do the right thing, to allow these committees to do their work. We saw last time with SNC Lavalin, when the hammer came down from the PMO, the liberal MPs snap to it, and shut down all those investigations. They can’t do that now because they don’t have a majority on committee. But as we saw last week, they can still shamefully filibuster and prevent testimony from being made so that Canadians can get the answers that they deserve.
Andrew Scheer: (16:56)
So we’re going to continue to do everything we can at the committee level and continue to make our calls for the RCMP to investigate these very serious and troubling allegations.
And what should happen to the actual program now? What should happen to $900 million? Should the entire purpose of it be canceled? Or what should happen to that money?
Andrew Scheer: (17:22)
Well, we’ve been saying for months now that there already is a program to help young people get experience, earn some money, and support the volunteer sector. It already exists. There’s already an infrastructure around it. There are already civil servants who are experts at allocating resources to organizations that need it. It’s called the Canada Summer Jobs Program. Every Member of Parliament has an ability to highlight organizations in their writings that could benefit from those types of grants.
Andrew Scheer: (17:57)
So what we’ve been saying is that there’s a way to do it without having a sole source, an organization that has close ties with senior liberals. We don’t understand why the liberals had to create a new complicated program, although it looks like we are finding out why they did. It was to benefit an organization that had been very cozy with the Liberal Party of Canada.
Andrew Scheer: (18:20)
So we continue to support measures to help young people get on the job experience that help the volunteer sector. We just believe that government shouldn’t have to always grow and expand to do it. We can use existing programs to do the very same objectives as the program that was announced.
Speaker 7: (18:41)
And we’ll now take questions from the room. I’m told we have time for three questions in the room. [Foreign language 00:18:45].
Speaker 8: (18:45)
[foreign language 00:19:07].
Good morning Mr. Scheer [foreign language 00:18:55]. Let me come back to the bill. You said you agree with section considering the peoples of disabilities, but the bill is something of issue [crosstalk 00:19:04].
Andrew Scheer: (18:45)
Mm-hmm (affirmative). [foreign language 00:19:07].
Negotiations are underway between the leaders in the House, leaders of all political parties. There are options to make sure that assistance to persons with disability is adopted, even as we raise concerns with the bill. We shall make sure that to persons with disabilities [crosstalk 00:19:35]. Do you want to split the deal?
Speaker 8: (18:45)
[foreign language 00:19:39].
My second question, let me come back to [crosstalk 00:18:46] that need to be set if [crosstalk 00:19:44]. Do you agree, for example, within the Nation League, who says that even though the allegations are anonymous, Mr. Blanchard has to respond to them. What do you think?
Andrew Scheer: (18:46)
[foreign language 00:19:54].
As I said, Melanie Joly is sitting besides Justin Trudeau, who himself has been accused of inappropriate acts. And she was very silent during the news concerning Mr. Trudeau. It’s always the same thing with the liberals. When there’s an accusation, concerning another party, they very quickly rush to say they believe the victim. But when there’s an allegation against Justin Trudeau, they are very silent.
We have a process in our party. When I was become the House of Commons, we adapted the regime for allegations. When I was elected head of the Conservative Party, I adopted the regime for our party. I have confidence in our process. And I do hope that other parties have similar processes.
Speaker 9: (20:58)
[foreign language 00: 05:01].
[crosstalk 00:21:03] To clarify things on the bill today, the NTP on the block will be supporting the bill as it is. Would you be adopting the bill as it is so there’s going to be unanimous consent? Is that your reading?
Andrew Scheer: (21:04)
[foreign language 00:05:19].
I believe that we have found a unanimous position in the House. We will see in the coming hours if that position remains, but I believe that aid for persons with disability will be very quickly adopted. [crosstalk 00:05:40].
As I said, it’s part of the bill. It’s difficult to see the liberal… It’s difficult because the Liberal Party is using the pandemic to hide its weaknesses. They’ve created the link between the WIT subsidy and aid to persons with disability. They’ve linked politics with assistance to persons with disability.
This is something we saw in June. The conservatives proposed a solution for a bill to be adopted for aid to be given to persons with disabilities very quickly, and the liberals refused. They blocked that motion in June. We shall make sure in the coming 2 to 3 days that aid to persons with disabilities is adopted.
Speaker 9: (22:28)
[foreign language 00:22:32].
Let me come back to Mr. Blanchard. Are you reassured by his explanations? Do you still have concerns or questions about the allegations against him?
Andrew Scheer: (22:32)
[foreign language 00:06:43].
As I said, we have a process in our party to manage such accusations. It’s up to each party, and up to each caucus member to decide, or to make sure, that their party has a similar process. Once again, it is hypocritic to see liberal ministers very quickly declare that [the living 00:07:16] victims in a case concerning another party, but always remain silent when it comes to allegations in their own party.
Speaker 10: (23:24)
Hi Mr. Scheer. Rachel Haynes from CTV National News. I’d just like to go back to clearing up a few of the things that you’re saying about today’s bill. Are any of the wage subsidy changes going to be passing today? Because you keep saying that you’re going to be working over the next few days to get the changes that you want to see. So how is that going to look like over the next few days? Are you going to ensure that House returns over the next couple of days?
Andrew Scheer: (23:46)
Mm-hmm (affirmative), well, the House is returning today at noon. Justin Trudeau pick today. He could have picked any day he liked. We tried to get this bill to support people with disabilities passed in June. Justin Trudeau refused. The liberals blocked our unanimous consent motion. Then he picked today…
Andrew Scheer: (24:03)
It’s untrue to refuse the liberals blocked our unanimous consent motion. Then he picked today to come back to debate this bill and also to participate in question period. Then he decided to take a personal day. Well, it’s completely unacceptable that he doesn’t show up for work on the day that he chose. It’s an insult to Canadians who have very serious questions about the WE scandal and who still are suffering because of the gaps in Mr. Trudeau’s programs. There are still many Canadians who are falling through the holes in those programs. Conservatives have proposing ideas like eliminating the barrier for people on Serve, to earn more at their jobs. We want to see the government adopt the Back to Work bonus that we’ve been proposing, allowing people to keep earning of their salaries while still qualifying for part of their Serve benefits.
Andrew Scheer: (24:53)
We’ve identified solutions to make the wage subsidy simpler. This iteration of it is very complex. So as I said, we will be ensuring there are conversations being held between the House leaders. I’m told that they are very constructive and I’m confident that we’re going to find a solution that allows conservatives to highlight our concerns around the wage subsidy bill or the wage subsidy components of the bill, while still ensuring that people with disabilities get the help they need. [foreign language 00:25:22]
Conversations are under way between the house leaders of both parties. I believe that we’ll find a solution that would allow conservatives to under score the concerns we have with the wage subsidy and at the same time, make sure that persons with disability receive the help they need.
Speaker 11: (25:46)
I would just like to go back though to what the next couple of days are going to look like when you say you’re going to continue pushing the liberals over the next few days. How exactly are you going to be doing that and maybe you can add more to the conversations that you’re having? And also, what specifically are the solutions that you’re proposing to make the changes that you want to see to the wage subsidy?
Andrew Scheer: (26:07)
Well, we’re going to be using question period today and debate today to highlight the problems with the wage subsidies, the complexities therein. We’ve heard from the Kane Federation of independent businesses. We’ve heard from our constituents who are saying that what they need is a easy to access program. There are still companies that should qualify for the wage subsidy, I’m being told that they don’t for very technical reasons. And now, instead of having a very simple set of phases or a scale of qualifications, they’ve come up with a very complicated formula. Specifically, what we’d like to see as a simplification of this program and our shadow minister for finance will be outlining specific proposals throughout the day today and we’re hopeful that the government adopts them. They have adopted some of our ideas, for example, on the help for people with disabilities.
Andrew Scheer: (27:03)
We said back in June that it was too restrictive. Now it includes more people with disabilities and it also includes veterans. That’s thanks to the hard work of the conservative caucus, pushing on those concerns. We’re hopeful that they’ll adopt our ideas on the Serb and on other things, for example, the rental subsidy. You still need to have experienced a catastrophic drop in revenue. Before you qualify for the rental program. There are many businesses that have lost 30, 40, 50% of their revenue who still don’t qualify. We are hopeful that they will adopt our programs, our ideas to fix their programs. But here we are in the end of July. And remember Justin Trudeau said in March that he was going to design these programs quickly and then fix them as time went on.
Andrew Scheer: (27:49)
Well, Canadians are going through these difficulties in real time. And Justin Trudeau is so slow to fix the problems with his programs, even though other opposition parties have not only identified them, but actually provided the solutions for them. We’ve actually written out what amendments could look like to fix these programs and they still won’t adopt them. It’s very, very frustrating.
Speaker 12: (28:09)
[inaudible 00:04:11], last question.
Stephanie Levitz: (28:12)
Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press. Are you seeking amendments to the bill today? Is that your path forward to get the entire thing passed or are you seeking to divide out the sues portion into a different piece of legislation?
Andrew Scheer: (28:25)
Well, I’m told that the house leaders are in conversations right now about emotion that would allow conservatives to highlight our problems, our concerns, our dissatisfaction with the portions of the wage subsidy that are so complicated. We’d like to see those simplified, while at the same time, ensuring that help for people with disabilities gets adopted very quickly. We’ll see it. I think it’s noon the house is coming back. It’s noon so it’s only a little over an hour away, but I’m confident that we’re going to have a way forward on that.
Stephanie Levitz: (28:59)
And if not, do you have a trick up your sleeve that you intend to pull to delay the proceedings?
Andrew Scheer: (29:04)
I’m told that we’re finding a lot of common ground between the host leaders to ensure that this bill is able to proceed so I don’t anticipate the need for reaching back into the speakers a bag of procedural maneuvers.
Speaker 12: (29:22)
And that was our last question. Well, hold on.
Speaker 13: (29:26)
One more question. Electronic voting, that report is public. How do you feel about that? Can you tell us if your party’s going to support that?
Andrew Scheer: (29:35)
I have been very concerned how Justin Trudeau has used this pandemic to sideline parliament, to take away tools of the opposition and to give himself massive amounts of unprecedented power. I’m very concerned at the road that the liberals seem to be headed down this path. We prefer, as our house leader wrote to the speaker, we prefer solutions that maintain the traditions of permanent in person meetings. There are ideas that you can have for personal ways of voting other countries have different mechanisms for that. I believe our dissenting report is public as well. If not, it will be soon when the proc report is published. In that dissenting report, you’ll see the conservative position very specifically articulated. Thanks very much.
Speaker 12: (30:30)
This concludes the press conferences. [foreign language 00:30:34]