Prime Minister Justin Trudeau leaves West Block on Parliament Hill to participate in a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, Friday, March 12, 2021. The federal Conservatives are demanding Prime Minister Justin Trudeau or senior members of his staff appear before a parliamentary committee on Monday, as opposition parties continue digging into the Liberal government's now-dead deal with WE Charity to run a student grant program last summer. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Tories demand Trudeau testify on WE deal after Liberals reject hearing from PM staff

OTTAWA — The federal Conservatives are calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to answer questions before a parliamentary committee on Monday about the Liberal government’s now-dead deal with WE Charity.

The demand follows bickering between opposition parties and the Liberals last week over a Conservative-backed motion in the House of Commons that saw MPs vote to have senior members of Trudeau’s staff testify before the ethics committee.

Government House Leader Pablo Rodriguez indicated that the Liberals would ignore the motion, accusing the Conservatives of trying to intimidate political staff and arguing that ministers are ultimately responsible for those who work for them.

Conservative industry critic Pierre Poilievre said during a news conference this afternoon that if Trudeau’s staff will not appear before the ethics committee, then it is the prime minister who must appear to answer for them or else he will have violated the will of Parliament.

While prime ministers don’t usually testify before committees, Trudeau did appear at the finance committee in July to answer questions about his government’s decision last year to have WE run a multimillion-dollar student volunteer program.

WE later backed out of the $543-million agreement following questions and concerns about its close ties to members of the prime minister’s family, before the Canada Student Services Grant program was cancelled entirely.

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