1) PMJT’s testimony at the Finance Committee provides more information on the #CSSG. The PM learned about the public service’s recommendation on using #WECharity to deliver the program on May 8. He pulled it from that day’s Cabinet agenda to study the issue more closely. #cdnpoli
2) The PM was surprised the PS wasn’t suggesting using the Canada Service Corp. He was told they couldn’t scale up to deliver the CSSG, which disappointed him. He pushed back on the WE recommendation. PM/O did not speak to WE or Kielburgers on CSSG at any time.
3) CSSG came to Cabinet for approval on May 21. The public service confirmed WE was the only organization with the scale & capacity to deliver the CSSG. It was either go with WE or don’t do the program at all. The PM/O didn’t influence or direct the recommendation.
4) PM says the Cabinet decision was on the policy of whether to have a CSSG program, not specifically on which org to use to deliver it. PM suggested extra oversight & on paying the $ out in tranches. This was reflected in the Treasury Board decision.
5) The three objectives of the CSSG were: i) for students to get involved in their communities; ii) help Not For Profits; iii) give students grants for tuition for their service. CSSG was about volunteerism, not about jobs. CSSG was one program of a $9B aid package for students.
6) PM reminds us that the CSSG decision was made in the context of the pandemic. The govt acted quickly & decisively knowing some mistakes may be made. Focus was on helping Canadians who were facing a deadly virus. “Time was of the essence.”
7) Because of the urgency of the pandemic response, PM stated that programs were developed in weeks that would have otherwise taken 6 months. (Me: This is a key point. They had to compress timelines and streamline processes to deliver all the pandemic programs. Impressive feat.)
8) PM’s Chief of Staff Katie Telford testifies that on Sunday, April 5 the PM and Finance Minister spoke about the govt’s economic response. At this time, Morneau talked about his department’s work on gaps to identify those falling through the cracks, such as seniors & students.
9) A $9B package for students came together as a result, and the CSSG was one tenth of this package. On the issue of conflicts, they had the Ethics Commissioner approve Sophie Grégoire Trudeau’s volunteering with WE. On CSSG, she & the PM pushed back on going with WE on May 8.
10) Telford says that everyone was working under unusual circumstances, such as working from home. Regarding conflicts, they need to reflect on how they can improve on identifying them, even if it means slowing down decision making. They will work with the EC on how to do this.
11) In response to Peter Julian asking about the WE Charity vs Foundation distinction: Telford said it’s the public servants who nail down the details of the Contribution Agreement. Julian asks “who was in the room?” She says, “you’ve already spoken to those people in the room.”