Canada's ex-finance minister Bill Morneau cleared over charity gift

·2-min read
Canada"s Minister of Finance Bill Morneau attends a news conference with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada March 11, 2020
Both Mr Morneau and Mr Trudeau have faced criticism for their involvement with WE Charity

Canada's former finance minister has been cleared of ethical wrongdoing after receiving a gift from a charity.

Ethics commissioner Mario Dion said Bill Morneau "genuinely believed" he had paid for two trips to see WE Charity's work abroad.

He has since repaid the value of the trips, which he took with his family.

Mr Morneau resigned in August, although he denied it was because of this case, which also involved WE and PM Justin Trudeau.

At the time it was also reported that he was clashing with the prime minister on the future direction of the country's economy, in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

WE had paid about C$41,000 ($31,000; £23,300) to cover the cost of two trips Mr Morneau had taken with his family to see the charity's work in Kenya and Ecuador.

"I accept that you genuinely believed you had paid for the entire cost of both trips, including the portion of the trip that involved the use of non-commercial chartered aircraft," Mr Dion wrote in a letter widely reported by Canadian media.

Mr Dion continues to investigate Mr Morneau for failing to remove himself from cabinet discussions when the government tapped WE Charity Canada to receive a C$43.5m contract to run a C$900m youth volunteer programme for out-of-work students during the Covid-19 outbreak.

Mr Trudeau is also being investigated for failing to remove himself from those same discussions.

The charity was granted the contract in June, and it was soon revealed that both Mr Trudeau and Mr Morneau had personal ties with it.

Two of the finance minister's daughters are associated with the organisation, one of them as an employee.

Mr Trudeau's mother and brother had also received speaking fees for attending the charity's star-studded WE Day events.

The case resulted in Mr Trudeau's third ethics investigation while in office, and led to calls for both his and Mr Morneau's resignation.

WE declined the contract after the uproar, and later announced it would leave its Canadian operations altogether.