1) There’s a fair bit of misinformation going around about the Canada Student Service Grant (CSSG) & WE‘s involvement. Having previously worked in a central agency that was involved in this decision, here are some clarifications in a short Govt Decision Making 101. #cdnpoli
2) Every new policy or program needs Cabinet approval before it can be announced & implementation can begin. In the case of the CSSG, it was part of a $9B package for students that civil servants at ESDC were tasked with pulling together in a Memorandum for Cabinet (MC), which
3) provides the rationale and recommendations for the policy/programs to be approved. If Finance Canada had already allocated funds for this policy, then the MC is costed at a high level. MCs are developed by civil servants with strategic input from the Minister’s Office &
4) other govt departments so that when the Minister responsible goes before the relevant Cabinet Committee for approval, her colleagues are already briefed on what is to come and how it may impact other portfolios. The Student Aid package announced in April was for
5) pandemic relief, so the Cabinet Committee (CC) that would have discussed it is the Ad Hoc one for pandemic response chaired by the DPM. The PM is not on this CC. Thus, the Student Aid Package was discussed at this CC without the PM, and this Committee’s Recommendation was
6) sent for the executive committee of Cabinet’s approval, which is usually a rubber stamping of the CC’s recommendation, chaired by the PM. The PM announced the $9B program on April 22, meaning Cabinet approval was obtained by this point. We know a civil servant from ESDC
7) approached WE Charity shortly thereafter (week of April 26) to ask if they would be interested in partnering with the govt on the CSSG component of the Student Aid package, worth $912M. This means that the CC/Cabinet approval was given *BEFORE* WE was approached or engaged.
8) After WE agreed to jump on board, ESDC would have brought a Treasury Board Submission forward to seek access to the $912M & to have a Contribution Agreement (CA) approved to establish the Transfer Payment Program for the CSSG. The CA includes oversight & performance measures.
9) The PM is not a member of the Treasury Board and thus would not have been involved in the detailed discussions around WE’s involvement that would’ve taken place at this CC. So, the issue of whether the PM has a conflict with WE may not even be relevant since the facts we know
10) point to him not having been involved in the detailed discussions around the CSSG. That is normal since the PM is not usually involved in the weeds of program design and delivery. We may learn new facts from the Ethics Commissioner’s examination, but on the face of it, there
11) are no red flags despite all the partisan huffing and puffing over this. Questions around why WE was asked to partner are fair, but linking it to favortism on the part of the PM demonstrates a lack of understanding of govt decision making & how many MANY hands are involved.
12) As for my sources, I worked as a Treasury Board analyst for three years & am familiar with the MC to Cabinet to TB process. It is publicly available info. I also verified with govt sources that this process was followed for the Student Aid Package that includes the CSSG.
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