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Tories ask procurement watchdog to review contracts between Ottawa, WE Charity

Last Updated Jul 2, 2020 at 1:54 pm EDT

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks up as he harvests broccoli at the Ottawa Food Bank Farm in Ottawa with his family, on Canada Day, Wednesday, July 1, 2020, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

OTTAWA — The Conservatives are asking the federal procurement watchdog to review the circumstances around several sole-sourced contracts between the Liberal government and WE Charity.

That includes an arrangement that will see the Toronto-based youth organization manage a $900-million federal program for student volunteers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

That sole-source contract has prompted questions about a potential conflict of interest, as both Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau have connections to WE.

The Conservatives referenced those ties in their letter to procurement ombudsman Alexander Jeglic today, listing five other sole-sourced contracts between the charity and Ottawa.

The amounts for those other contracts range from $13,000 to $40,000 — small enough they were not required to be advertised for competitive bids.

Trudeau has said the non-partisan public service concluded the WE organization was the only group in Canada capable of running the volunteer program.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 2, 2020.

The Canadian Press