Evening Brief: More controversy over WE Charity contract


Tonight’s Evening Brief is brought to you by iPolitics. Subscribers get the Lunchbox Brief delivered to their inbox at noon Monday to Friday. Featuring the government relations sector every Tuesday. After your busy morning, the Lunchbox is a quick and easy way to get up to speed. Sign up here.

Good evening, readers. iPolitics will move to a holiday schedule tomorrow for Canada Day, though we will still have fresh stories to share and our Holiday Brief will be sent directly to your inbox. We will resume our regular publishing schedule on Thursday.

The Lead

A co-founder of WE Charity claimed in a June 12 conference call that the Prime Minister’s Office contacted the organization directly in April to help implement a federal student volunteer grant program worth over $900 million. 

As the National Post reports, Marc Kielburger told a video conference with attendees from various Canadian youth organizations that his charity was asked directly by the PMO to help implement the new Canada Student Service Grant the day after it was first announced on April 22.

When asked about the comment Tuesday, WE Charity said Kielburger had “misspoke” and was never in contact with the PMO regarding the grant program. The PMO also denied asking WE Charity to administer the program.

WE Charity is set to collect at least $19.5 million in fees to administer the program, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has faced questions over his and his family’s close links to WE Charity and how the contract was awarded. 

In Canada

The federal Liberals, already holding a solid lead among women, are now the top choice for male voters.

A new Mainstreet Research poll suggests the Liberals are the top choice of 40 per cent of male leaning and decided respondents, with the Conservatives in second with 31.4 per cent, followed by the NDP at 13.5 per cent. The Bloc Québécois had 5 per cent support among the male population, with the Greens in fifth at 4.1 per cent.

Historically, Conservatives have been the top option among men. Marco Vigliotti has more.

As well, the federal Liberals head into the summer with a comfortable double-digit lead in the polls against the Conservatives, who are still in the process of choosing a new leader. 

The Liberals were the top choice of 43.2 per cent of leaning and decided respondents in the Mainstreet survey, with the Tories dropping to 27.4 per cent. Vigliotti has more on the latest national numbers.

Meanwhile, Statistics Canada said Tuesday that Canada’s GDP fell 11.6 per cent in April with non-essential businesses shut for the full month following a 7.5-per-cent decline in March.

As the Canadian Press reports, the full impact of sweeping economic lockdowns meant to slow the spread of COVID-19 came into sharper view with the new figures, which showed Canada saw the largest monthly drop on record.

However, early indications point to a rebound in May when businesses began to reopen. Statistics Canada said its initial flash estimate points to growth of 3 per cent in May, mirroring a small increase in jobs numbers during the same month. 

Consumers reeling from the COVID-19-induced economic downturn are looking to cut back on spending on food even as grocery prices continue to rise, a prominent food expert warns.

Sylvain Charlebois, the senior director of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University, said prices are increasing because production and distribution costs are rising amid the new reality of physical distancing, not to mention increased use of personal protective equipment by employees working in production facilities.

Rachel Emmanuel explains.

Lastly, the Trudeau government expressed concern Tuesday over China’s expansion of national security law to Hong Kong but did not indicate it would take any action to protest the move, as China blasted its other critics in Japan, the United States and Britain.

As the Toronto Star reports, the new laws take effect on Wednesday, the 23rd anniversary of the end of British rule in Hong Kong and handover of the territory to China. A number of pro-democracy activists immediately disbanded their organizations, fearing arrest and reprisals for political opposition to Beijing.

Comings and Goings: O’Leary heads to Crestview

The Drilldown: New column lays bare challenge of balancing support for oil and gas with reducing GHGs

In Other Headlines

Canada extends ban on foreign travellers to July 31 (CTV News)

Bolton implores Canada to ‘bear with’ U.S. on Meng extradition (CTV News)

A vitriolic campaign has torn the Conservatives apart. Insiders worry next leader will have a hard time putting the party back together (Toronto Star)

Air Canada ending service to 8 cities, suspending 30 regional routes (CTV News)

Toronto to make face masks mandatory in indoor public spaces to curb spread of COVID-19 (Globe and Mail)

Waterfront Toronto ditches Sidewalk Labs’ vision of high-tech, sensor-driven smart district at Quayside (Toronto Star)

Internationally

China on Tuesday approved a contentious national security law for Hong Kong that takes direct aim at some of the actions of anti-government protesters last year, in a move many see as Beijing’s boldest yet to erase the legal firewall between the semi-autonomous territory and the mainland’s authoritarian Communist Party system. (Associated Press)

American officials intercepted electronic data showing large financial transfers from a bank account controlled by Russia’s military intelligence agency to a Taliban-linked account, which was among the evidence that supported their conclusion that Russia covertly offered bounties for killing U.S. and coalition troops in Afghanistan. (New York Times)

The European Union will reopen its borders to travelers from 14 countries, and possibly China soon, the bloc announced Tuesday, but most Americans have been refused entry for at least another two weeks due to soaring coronavirus infections in the U.S. (AP)

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pushed the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday to extend an arms embargo on Iran before it expires in October, prompting Russia to slam Washington’s policy toward Tehran as like “putting a knee” to the country’s neck. (Reuters)

New Zealand on Tuesday cancelled its plans to host the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit next year because of the coronavirus, opting instead to lead a virtual summit. (AP)

Featured Opinion

Shawn McCarthy: Oil industry faces big hurdles in meeting Liberal climate-change goals

The Kicker

A Canadian Tire in Lindsay, Ont., temporarily closed on June 29 after every item scanned was coming up as “Mr Potato Head” and could not be changed.

According to Kawartha 411 News, no sales were being made and customers were forced to leave empty handed.

A spokesperson for Canadian Tire said the issue has since been corrected but the glitch affected five stores.

Have a good evening!

More from iPolitics