TORONTO (AP) — Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologized Monday for not recusing himself from a Cabinet decision to award a contract to a charity his family did paid work for.
Trudeau announced last month a grant for students having trouble finding work due to the pandemic.
The almost billion-dollar program came under scrutiny after it was revealed that We Charity, an organization Trudeau’s family has worked for, was chosen to administer it. Trudeau’s wife, brother and mother have been paid a combined $300,000 Canadian (US$221,000) for speaking at a number of WE events.
“I made a mistake in not recusing immediately from the discussions, given our family’s history. I am sincerely sorry for not having done that,” Trudeau said. “The mistake we made was on me. I take responsibility for it.”
Trudeau said he knew his family worked with the charity, but said he was unaware of how much they had been paid.
“I deeply regret that I have brought my mother into this situation. That is unfair to her,” he said.
Canada’s ethics commissioner in investigating Trudeau over the matter. It is the third ethics investigation Trudeau has faced.
Under pressure, the government and WE on July 3 terminated their deal, which had promised the organization up to $19 million Canadian (US$14 million). Students could volunteer up to 500 hours of work with community organizations to earn the maximum $5,000 Canadian (US$3,668) toward their postsecondary education costs.
Canada’s federal ethics commissioner said Trudeau violated conflict of interest rules in 2016 when he vacationed over Christmas at the private Bahamian island owned by the Aga Khan. He was not sanctioned or penalized.