135 Liberal MPs refuse to endorse Finance Minister Bill Morneau
As part of a survey conducted between Thursday, July 23 and Friday, July 27, 2020, Ottawa Life Magazine (OLM) contacted the offices of every Liberal Member of Parliament.
The Members of Parliament were asked: "Do you support the statement made by Finance Minister Bill Morneau to the House of Commons Finance Committee on July 22 regarding his reasons for not disclosing that he had not reimbursed the WE Charity for $41,366 in expenses?”
The WE Charity paid for trips for Morneau and his family prior to the government awarding WE a $43.5 million contract to administer a $900 million student grant program which has since been rescinded. Morneau reimbursed the charity last week, on the same day he was called to testify before a House of Commons committee about the scandal.
Each MP was asked to respond within 48 hours with either a Yes, I support Minster Morneau’s explanation, No I do not support his explanation or "no comment or not available for comment.”
When the numbers were tallied, 135 Liberal MPs chose the ‘no comment’ option regarding whether they support Morneau’s explanation for not disclosing that he had accepted free trips from WE.
Eleven caucus members responded in support of Bill Morneau, including several cabinet ministers.
Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth Bardish Chagger’s office responded with the following statement supporting Morneau:
"Minister Chagger would like as much information to be shared as possible and that is exactly what Minister Morneau has done. Since the beginning of the pandemic, all members of the Government have focused on delivering numerous programs for Canadians. We have worked tirelessly to deliver critical support to Canadians, and we continue to do this work as we are not out of the woods yet. Canadians are hurting and they remain our focus."
Minister of Canadian Heritage Steven Guilbeault’s office emailed a response of support saying, “Minister Guilbeault has confidence in Minister Morneau”. Minister of Labour Fiona Tassi's office responded with a resolute "Yes" in support of Morneau. Minister of Seniors Deb Schulte’s office responded saying "Minister Morneau has worked relentlessly with his cabinet colleagues to provide crucial support to Canadians during the pandemic. Minister Schulte remains confident in Minister Morneau's ability to deliver for Canadians." Minister of Defence Harjitt Sajjan's office responded with a statement saying "Minister Sajjan fully supports Minister Morneau as our Finance Minister.” Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Carolyn Bennett responded via a statement from her press secretary saying that she “supports Minister Morneau". Both Trade Minister Mary Ng and Catherine Mckenna, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, had already signaled their support for Morneau in other media. Ng said she has "confidence" in Morneau continuing in the finance role and Catherine Mckenna was quoted saying “Obviously mistakes have been made," adding that both “Morneau and Trudeau have apologized”.
Of the 155 government MPs offices only, a few MPs expressed support for Morneau’s explanation. Julie Dzerowicz, MP for Davenport. responded saying "I absolutely continue to support our Minister of Finance Bill Morneau and the statements he made yesterday at Finance committee". Mississauga-Lakeshore MP Svenn Spengeman signaled his support for Morneau by sending OLM a quote on the Morneau-WE charity scandal from the leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Pablo Rodriquez, who also supports Morneau. The quote read, "Minister Morneau is in politics for the right reasons. Every single day during this pandemic he has worked hard to deliver essential help to Canadians. I look forward to continuing to work with him at the cabinet table." MP Francis Scarpaleggia signaled his support for Morneau via the francophone news outlet La press saying, “The caucus is extremely proud of the work of the government, of the leadership of the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance in a situation of unprecedented crisis. I think that sums it all up,”
The office of Wayne Easter, MP for Malpeque, stated that he fully supports Minister Morneau’s explanation regarding paying back $41,366 in expenses to the We Charity. Mr. Easter is the Chair of the House Finance Committee that is conducting hearings into Prime Minister Trudeau, Minister Morneau and the WE scandal.
Vimy (Quebec) MP Annie Koutrakis responded with a lengthy statement of support. "Minister Morneau has been at the center of mobilizing the Canadian economy and society like nothing we have seen since World War II in order to fight the health and economic crisis we face during this pandemic. Over the past 100 days, he and his team, have done an absolute remarkable job in helping millions of Canadians and hundreds of thousands of Canadian businesses to survive what could easily have become a depression like that of the 1930s. Needless to say, all that great work can't be overturned because of a mistake. Therefore, my answer to your question is an emphatic Yes, Minister Morneau has my full support and confidence." Ms. Koutrakis is a government Member of the of the Standing Committee on Finance that is reviewing the WE Charity scandal.
Staff for Hedy Fry, MP for Vancouver-Centre, responded to OLM twice after being contacted. On the second call they said they would call back with an answer regarding her support for Morneau. Then they went silent and did not call back putting her in the no comment category.
Of the 155 MPs offices contacted by OLM, 135 Liberal MPs would not signal their support for Morneau’s explanation preferring to be listed as having ‘no comment’ or not available for comment. Only 11 responses to OLM were in clear support of Minister Morneau. (Counting the four additional statements included from pieces in other media outlets such as CBC and La press, there were a total of 15 responses of support for Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s explanation regarding WE Charity expenses that OLM could tally).