Conservatives ask languages watchdog to probe WE Charity decision

OTTAWA — The federal Conservatives are asking the official languages commissioner to investigate the government’s choice of WE Charity to run a student grant program, saying the move showed contempt toward francophones.

Conservative MP Richard Martel alleges in a letter to commissioner Raymond Theberge that the youth group did not have the ability to deliver the multimillion-dollar Canada Student Service Grant program in both of Canada’s official languages.

Read more: Documents requested by House prove youth minister was key driver in WE decision: NDP

Martel, who is making the letter public today, says the Official Languages Act clearly states the government is obliged to ensure any organization carrying out services on its behalf must do so in English and French.

Opposition MPs have been grilling the government for months over the now-abandoned program because of WE Charity’s close connections to the families of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Bill Morneau, the recently departed finance minister.

The Liberals have consistently said it was federal public servants who recommended the program be administered by the youth group to help students during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Parliament has been prorogued until Sept. 23, shutting down — at least temporarily — several House of Commons investigations of the controversy, including one planned by the official languages committee.

© 2020 The Canadian Press

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