iPolitics AM: Top civil servant back in the spotlight as WE Charity probe continues at ethics committee

ALSO TODAY: Scheer holds mid-morning media availability to discuss ‘$900 million scandal’ — Canada-China relations committee hears from Hong Kong experts

Three weeks to the day after he provided the House FINANCE committee with his behind-the-scenes account of the sequence of events that led to the now-nixed decision to put WE Charity in charge of managing nearly one billion dollars in federal funding for student volunteer services, Privy Council Clerk Ian Shugart will be back at the witness table: this time, at ETHICS, which has now launched a separate probe into the controversy. (12:30 PM)

According to the programme for today’s extended six-hour session, Shugart will share his perspective on the “safeguards in place to prevent conflicts of interest in federal government expenditure policies,” and specifically, why no “red flags” were raised when neither Prime Minister nor Finance Minister Bill Morneau recused themselves from the cabinet table during those discussions, given the ties that both of their families had with the now embattled youth empowerment organization.

During his previous appearance, Shugart told MPs that, while PCO officials “were not aware” of Morneau’s involvement with the organization — which, as was revealed during his own go-round at committee, included inadvertently accepting $41,000 in complimentary travel expenses related to WE site visits in Ecuador and Kenya — but pointed out that Trudeau’s longstanding relationship with WE “was, of course, in the public domain,” which, he explained, was why “it ‘did not particularly’ cross his mind there would be a need for more information to be released.”

Also on the witness list today: Diversity, Inclusion and Youth Minister Bardish Chagger, who first brought the WE proposal to the cabinet table and, like, Shugart, has already testified before the finance committee and Public Services Minister Carla Qualtrough, whose responsibilities include procurement and contracting across government and who is booked in for a one-hour appearance at the finance committee tomorrow. (2 – 4 PM)

Finally, former ethics commissioner Mary Dawson, who was originally expected to testify on Monday, is now set to brief the committee via video this evening. (4:30 PM)

Before the gavel goes down at committee, outgoing Conservative leader Andrew Scheer will hold a mid-morning media availability to “discuss the latest revelations” in what he and his party are, it seems, still referring to as “’s $900 million scandal,” as well as reiterate his pledge that “Conservatives will not rest until Canadians have the answers they deserve.” (11 AM)

ALSO ON THE VIRTUAL COMMITTEE CIRCUIT

The CANADA-CHINA RELATIONS committee hears from a panel of Hong Kong experts, including representatives from Hong Kong Watch, Alliance Canada Hong Kong and Canada-Hong Kong Link, as well as Amnesty International Canada, Human Rights Watch and the National Endowment for Democracy. (11 AM – 2 PM)

FISHERIES AND OCEANS members continue to examine the “state of the Pacific salmon” with testimony from Pacific Coast Wild Salmon Society biologist Alexandra Morton, Rivershed Society of British Columbia chair and former New Democrat MP Fin Donnelly and other conservation advocates.

OUTSIDE THE PRECINCT

Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault drops by Montreal’s Usine C with a fresh installment of federal cash earmarked to bolster the local arts and cultural communities, while elsewhere in the region, Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller holds a virtual press conference to unveil new support for “urban and off-reserve Indigenous organizations.”

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Committee highlights courtesy of our friends at iPoliticsINTEL.

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