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Pasquale (Pat) Musitano, Hamilton mob boss, shot dead in Burlington – National Post

July 10th, 2020

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Peel Regional Police found Musitano with gunshot wounds just after 7 a.m., near Hurontario Street and Matheson Boulevard East in Mississauga. He was sent to a trauma centre in Toronto for his life-threatening injuries, but recovered.

Musitano is the presumed boss of a Hamilton crime family originally hailing from Calabria, Italy. Their specialities include gambling, extortion and racketeering.

The eldest son and apparent heir of Dominic Musitano, who died in 1995, Pat had been stalked by a wave of attacks as a mob war erupted in recent years across the Greater Toronto Area. His family’s enemies are known to include criminal groups in Hamilton, Buffalo, Montreal and elsewhere, including the Luppino and Papalia crime gangs.

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Notorious Hamilton mobster Pat Musitano gunned down in Burlington, Ont.: police – CBC.ca

July 10th, 2020

Notorious Hamilton mobster Pat Musitano, head of the Musitano crime family, died in a Friday afternoon shooting in Burlington, Ont., police say.

Halton Region police say they responded to reports of a shooting at about 1:10 p.m. at 484 Plains Rd. E., the site of a small business plaza. The shooting took place in front of Pro Patio Furniture.

When police arrived, they said in a news release, they found “two victims with gunshot wounds.”

“One victim in this shooting has succumbed to their injuries,” police said in a tweet Friday afternoon. “A second victim has been transported to hospital. Suspect(s) remain outstanding at this time.”

Police have since confirmed the victim who died is 52-year-old Musitano.

The Burlington shooting took place at 1:10 p.m. on Friday. Officers say there are two victims and one has died. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)

Const. Steve Elms of the Halton Regional Police Service, west of Toronto, told CBC News that the suspect reportedly fled westbound on Plains Road East in a grey sedan.

The licence plate of one of the vehicles at the scene, a black GMC Denali, matches the plate of a black GMC Denali found outside the office of a lawyer near where Musitano was shot in 2019.

Police say people in the area should expect a “heavy police presence throughout the afternoon and into the evening,” but they don’t believe there is an active threat to public safety. Roughly a dozen police vehicles lined the street and parking lot near the shooting. Dozens more officers were on the scene.

Plains Road East is closed in both directions between King Road and Waterdown Road.

Ahmed Shaarwar works at the Shoppers Drug Mart across the street from the shooting. He said he didn’t see the shooting take place, but it is still a shock.

“I’m surprised. Usually we don’t see such stark things,”  Shaarwar told CBC News.

“I’m scared, of course, especially for my kids as well. Any innocent bystander can get wounded.”

He said the fact that an infamous Mob boss was killed makes it “even stranger.”

Ahmed Shaarwar works across the street from the crime scene. He said the area is normally safe and quiet. Now he fears his own family may get hurt. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)

Darcy and Andrew Briand, who stopped by the store to buy snacks, said they’ll be thinking about the fatal shooting on their walk home, which is just down the street.

“You see it on TV and stuff, but you never really see it in person,” Darcy said.

“I’ve never seen anything like this before.”

Angelo Musitano shot to death in 2017

Musitano’s brother, Angelo, was shot to death in front of his Waterdown, Ont., home in May 2017.

Weeks later, Pat Musitano’s home on St. Clair Boulevard in Hamilton was also shot up.

The Musitano family is linked to convictions for bombings and extortion in the 1970s, as well as the hit on mobster Domenic Racco in the 1980s, and the murders of Johnny “Pops” Papalia and one of his lieutenants, Carmen Barillaro, in 1997.

Halton Regional Police say one person is dead and another is fighting for their life in hospital after a shooting in Aldershot, a neighbourhood in Burlington, Ont., Friday afternoon. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)

The Musitano brothers reached a deal and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder in the death of Barillaro. In turn, the charges against them in connection with Papalia’s death were dropped. They were sentenced to 10 years in prison but were released in 2007, and had made little noise since then — until bullets started flying once more.

The Musitanos were once protected by an alliance with the famed Rizzuto crime family, based out of Montreal. 

The 2013 death of reputed Mafia boss Vito Rizzuto created a power vacuum within the organization, and now warring factions have weakened the once mighty Montreal Mafia. That left the Musitanos to fend for themselves.

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Ontario mobster Pat Musitano shot to death in broad daylight at Burlington plaza – CTV News

July 10th, 2020

TORONTO — Convicted mobster Pasquale (Pat) Musitano was shot to death in broad daylight at a plaza in Burlington, Ont. on Friday afternoon.

Shortly after 1 p.m., emergency crews were called to the area of Plains Road East and King Road for reports of a shooting.

Upon arrival at the scene, officers said they located two male victims suffering from gunshot wounds. One victim was pronounced dead at the scene and the other was transported to hospital with serious injuries.

A third male victim was located at the scene with unknown injuries. Officers said he was not shot.

halton shooting

The deceased male has since been identified by police as Pat. He was 52 years old. 

Pat was a well-known fixture of Ontario’s organized crime scene for many years.

Pat and his brother Angelo were charged with first-degree murder in the 1997 deaths of Hamilton mob boss Johnny “Pops” Papalia and his underboss Carmen Barillaro. The hitman who pleaded guilty in both shootings said the Musitano brothers had ordered the killings. The brothers pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder in Barillaro’s death as part of a plea deal and the charges relating to Papalia’s death were withdrawn.

The brothers were sentenced to 10 years behind bars in 2000 and were released from prison in 2006.

musitano

On May 2, 2017, Angelo was fatally gunned down while sitting in his vehicle in the driveway of his home in Hamilton, Ont.’s Waterdown neighbourhood. He was 39 years old.

One man was arrested in connection with Angelo’s death and two other suspects are wanted on Canada-wide warrants.

Meanwhile, Pat’s vehicle was torched in his driveway back in 2015 and a month after Angelo was killed Pat’s home was sprayed with bullets.

Pat was targeted once again last year. He was shot on April 25, 2019 in a Mississauga, Ont. parking lot while leaving his lawyer’s office at around 7 a.m.

The family’s patriarch, Pat and Angelo’s uncle, Tony Musitano died of natural causes at the age of 72 in April 2019. He was described as a former mobster.

No threat to public safety, police say

In the aftermath of the Burlington, Ont. shooting, Halton Regional Police said there is no ongoing or immediate threat to public safety.

halton

Speaking at the scene of the shooting just before 4 p.m., Const. Ryan Anderson with Halton Regional Police told reporters officers are searching for a male suspect who fled the area westbound on Plains Road East in a newer model grey four-door sedan with a sunroof, similar to an Infiniti Q50.

According to investigators, the suspect vehicle would have “fresh damage to the driver’s side in the area of the doors.”

No further suspect description has been provided by officials thus far.

“Our investigators are going to be doing an extensive investigation,” Anderson said. “We are going to be canvassing the area for evidence, cameras, those sorts of things. It requires a large road closure at this point and a large scene.”

“We do have some witnesses and we would love to hear from anyone else who may have seen something, who may have been driving in the area, who has a dashcam from the approximate time of 1 p.m. on Plains Road East in Burlington.”

Roads remain blocked off nearby as an investigation into the matter is conducted.

Anyone with further information is asked to contact police or Crime Stoppers.

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Justin Trudeau faces calls for criminal investigation into family’s charity links – The Guardian

July 10th, 2020

Political rivals of Justin Trudeau are calling for a criminal investigation after it emerged that members of his family were paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by a charity to which his government recently awarded a substantial contract.

The multinational WE Charity confirmed on Thursday that Trudeau’s wife, mother and brother had been paid for appearances at charity events over the years. Margaret Trudeau, the prime minister’s mother and wife of the former prime minister Pierre Trudeau, has been paid nearly C$250,000 (US$182,000) since 2016 – far more than any other family member.

“That revelation raises the need for the police to take a look at it,” said the Conservative member of parliament Michael Barrett on Friday. Barrett said his colleagues believed there were “sufficient grounds” for the RCMP to investigate a violation of Canada’s conflict-of-interest laws.

In a statement, the prime minister’s office said: “The Prime Minister’s relatives engage with a variety of organizations and support many personal causes on their own accord.”

Scrutiny of the Trudeau family’s relationship with the charity stems from a government contract which it was awarded in June to administer a C$900m student-work program.

Under the terms of the deal, the charity was to be paid at least C$19.5m. Amid questions over a potential conflict of interest, the government and WE Charity said the cancellation of the contract was “mutually agreed” on 3 July.

Yves-François Blanchet, the leader of the small Bloc Québécois party – and a legislative ally of Trudeau’s minority government – has called on the prime minister to “step aside” until the ethics commissioner completes his investigation.

“The prime minister should temporarily hand over the reins of power to the deputy prime minister [Chrystia Freeland], who we would offer to work with,” Blanchet said. The Conservatives have not made a similar request.

Trudeau has said he did not recuse himself from the decision to award the contract, despite his family’s ties to the charity.

News that Trudeau’s brother, mother and wife all receive payments from WE Charity over the years contradicts previous statements by the prime minister’s office and the charity itself.

WE Charity initially told the media outlet Canadaland that Margaret Trudeau had not been paid for appearances at charity events. The PM’s office told the Globe and Mail that Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, Trudeau’s wife, never received compensation from the charity.

The investigation by the ethics commissioners marks the third time the prime minister has faced queries into his conduct as leader.

In August 2019, the country’s ethics commissioner, Mario Dion, determined Trudeau violated the country’s ethics laws when he urged his attorney general not to prosecute an engineering company in a conflict-of-interest case.

And in 2017, the previous commissioner found that the prime minister violated conflict-of-interest laws a year earlier when he took two all-expenses-paid family trips, including a helicopter ride, to a private residence in the Bahamas owned by the Aga Khan.

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Tories ask police to investigate prime minister over WE Charity deal – CBC.ca

July 10th, 2020

The opposition Conservatives are calling for a criminal investigation into Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his ties to the WE Charity after the federal government handed the organization a $900 million sole-sourced contract.

The call comes a day after CBC News reported that, despite initial claims, WE had financial dealings with some of Trudeau’s family members, most notably his mother Margaret and brother Alexandre.

WE and its affiliates paid out some $300,000 in speaking fees to the two through the Speakers’ Spotlight Bureau over the last four years.

CTV News also reported that the prime minister’s wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, received $1,500 for participating in a WE event in 2012, before Trudeau became leader of the Liberal Party. She currently hosts a podcast for the charity.

Federal Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion announced last Friday that he was investigating Trudeau over the choice of WE to run the grants program.

Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre is asking the police to probe Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his ties to the WE Charity. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

But Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre said a probe by the ethics commissioner alone is insufficient, given the new revelations about payments to Trudeau family members before Ottawa awarded WE the contract to administer the the Canada Student Service Grant (CSSG).

“It’s not just a conflict of interest. It’s much more serious than that. We have a prime minister that has used his powers to get a benefit out of an organization related to himself and his family,” he said in French.

Poilievre cited Section 121 of the Criminal Code as a potential avenue for the police.

That section, titled “frauds on the government,” says it’s an offence for someone to give an elected official or any member of their family “a loan, reward, advantage or benefit of any kind as consideration for co-operation, assistance, exercise of influence or an act or omission in connection with the transaction of business with or any matter of business relating to the government.”

“We’re asking the relevant authorities if this could apply,” Poilievre said.

The initial decision to outsource this work to a third party with ties to the prime minister’s family was criticized by some in the charitable sector and by the opposition Conservatives.

WE decided to pull out of the contract last week, citing the “controversy” over the partnership. WE agreed to give up the $19.5 million it was to be paid to administer the program.

Trudeau had defended the partnership, saying WE was the only group with a nationwide network capable of operating a program of this sort for young people. Other charitable organizations have questioned that assertion.

Conservative ethics critic Michael Barrett said it’s “essential” that the police probe the government’s decision to hand such a valuable contract to a “Trudeau and Liberal-friendly firm.”

“Canadians deserve to have a prime minister and a cabinet and a Parliament that they have confidence in,” he said. “It is clear that confidence has been shaken yet again.”

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After WE Charity fallout, students, non-profits await fate of $900M grant program – CTV News

July 9th, 2020

TORONTO — Nathaniel Black was hoping to benefit from a government grant program this summer aimed at providing pandemic income and helping struggling students earn money through volunteering. But now he’s worried that opportunity will fall through.

“In a tough economy, we can’t find jobs at cafes, jobs at bookstores, so we’re going to be turning to volunteer jobs more and more increasingly,” said Black.

The uncertain fate of the Canada Student Services Grant, a $900-million student volunteering program tangled in controversy, has left students and non-profit groups who use or hope to use the program hanging and frustrated.

Announced back in April, the grant pays students aged 30 and under $1,000 for every 100 hours volunteered up to $5,000. It was supposed to be administered by WE Charity, but that agreement was cancelled last week following conflict of interest allegations involving Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his ties to the organization.

The controversy escalated on Thursday after it was revealed that Trudeau’s family were paid a total of nearly $300,000 over the last four years to speak at events hosted by WE Charity, previously known as Free the Children, and founded by Marc and Craig Kielburger.

The government says it is working on a solution and Trudeau indicated that public servants would administer the grants. As postponements continue to plague the roll-out, more than 35,000 applicants are left waiting, along with non-profit organizations who were looking forward to bringing on summer students during a challenging time. Unsure when those positions will be filled, some are now scrambling to find alternatives to fill those vacancies.

“The individuals who are hurt are the students looking for opportunities and organizations like myself,” said Christopher Sutton, chief executive of Wavefront Centre, a charity aimed at reducing hearing-related communication barriers.

With the summer already in full swing, however, some student organizations are in favour of cancelling the program altogether.

“Money should be given to the Canadian Emergency Student Benefit instead of this program,” said Nicole Brayiannis, the national deputy chairperson at the Canadian Federation of Students.

“It’s so late in the summer that students wouldn’t be able to access the benefits of the program.”

Trudeau had previously said that WE Charity was the only organization capable of running a program of this size and said that the charity was not making any profits off the administration of the grant program. But charity experts have questioned whether WE was equipped to manage such a large government program.

“This entire debacle really shows students that the promises are half-empty,” said Black.

With files from The Canadian Press

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Trudeau Faces Ethics Questions on Family Ties to Charity Given Government Contract – The New York Times

July 9th, 2020

TORONTO — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s mother and brother were paid more than $200,000 over four years by a charity recently awarded a no-bid contract to disburse hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to student volunteers, officials confirmed Thursday.

The revelation raised ethical questions anew for Mr. Trudeau, who has faced earlier conflict-of-interest complaints along with a high-profile ethics investigation that had once threatened to derail his tenure.

Last week, the country’s ethics commissioner opened an investigation into whether the prime minister had breached conflict-of-interest rules by awarding the aid contract to an organization, known as the WE Charity, with which he has close personal ties.

Facing an uproar, the government reconsidered and said it would run the aid program instead, known as the Canada Student Service Grant.

But questions were revived on Thursday when the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported that the charity had paid Mr. Trudeau’s mother and brother a total of $207,000, about 282,000 Canadian dollars, for speaking engagements. The charity confirmed the information to The New York Times.

“The prime minister personally intervened to direct a billion-dollar program to a group that had paid his family almost $300k. Not in Venezuela. Not in Zimbabwe. In Canada,” tweeted Pierre Poilievre, a member of Parliament from the opposition Conservatives, demanding an emergency session to address the issue.

The episode threatens to tarnish Mr. Trudeau, who has only recently started to rebuild his image. His party narrowly won re-election last year after he was accused in an ethics investigation of trying to improperly influence a high-profile corporate criminal case.

ImageFans lining the red carpet at WE Day Toronto in 2018. WE Charity is an international development organization known for hosting large-scale youth events.
Fans lining the red carpet at WE Day Toronto in 2018. WE Charity is an international development organization known for hosting large-scale youth events.Credit…Christopher Katsarov/CP, via Associated Press

In a statement, Mr. Trudeau’s office said the “prime minister’s relatives engage with a variety of organizations and support many personal causes on their own accord.” It urged Canadians to focus on the aid program, not on its administration.

“The Canada Student Service Grant program is about giving young people opportunities to contribute to their communities, not about benefits to anyone else,” Alex Wellstead, the prime minister’s press secretary, said in an email.

Mr. Trudeau has spoken at WE Charity events. His wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, has hosted a podcast connected to the charity about mental health, called WE Well-Being.

The charity’s press office said in an email that the prime minister and his wife had volunteered their time and were not paid, with one exception in 2012, when Ms. Gregoire Trudeau received about $1,000 for a speaking engagement. Mr. Trudeau was not prime minister at the time.

The award of the student aid contract to WE Charity, an organization best known for hosting large youth events, had already stirred criticism, not only from opposition parties but also from some Canadians in the nonprofit sector.

In response, the government announced last week that it would instead administer the aid program, established to cushion some student costs during a weakened economy by awarding them with up to $5,000 in grants for doing volunteer work.

In addition, the charity’s founding brothers, Craig and Mark Kieburger, said the organization would waive all the administrative costs incurred in setting up the program and would return government funds already received to the government.

The charity had been slated to receive a total of $14 million for overseeing the program.

Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, wife of Mr. Trudeau, onstage at WE Day U.N. in New York in 2018.Credit…Bryan Bedder/Getty Images For We Day

The latest revelations played to an image of a prime minister who already suffered from “the whiff of entitlement,” said Shachi Kurl, the executive director of the Angus Reid Institute, a Canadian nonprofit polling firm based in Vancouver.

“The question is whether this will further stick to the bottom of his shoe,” Ms. Kurl said.

In August of last year, Canada’s federal ethics commissioner found that Mr. Trudeau had violated an ethics law when he used his office “to circumvent, undermine and ultimately attempt to discredit” the former justice minister and attorney general, Jody Wilson-Raybould.

The commissioner said Mr. Trudeau had improperly pressured her to seek a civil penalty against SNC-Lavalin, a Montreal-based engineering company, rather than a criminal conviction. But while the scandal haunted him, Mr. Trudeau nevertheless went on to win a second term late last year, albeit with a minority government.

And in December 2017, Canada’s conflict-of-interest and ethics commissioner ruled that a vacation by the Trudeau family on a private Caribbean island owned by a billionaire philanthropist — and two other trips made by him or members of his family — broke four sections of Canada’s conflict-of-interest law.

Those episodes took the sheen off Mr. Trudeau, who first came to power in 2015, fashioning himself as a liberal change-maker with a strong moral compass.

Since last year’s hard-fought re-election campaign, Mr. Trudeau has worked hard to rebuild his brand and, in recent months, it has been burnished by his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. He managed the crisis for some time from his home study, with three children underfoot and his wife suffering from the virus in bed.

Catherine Porter reported from Toronto, and Dan Bilesky from Montreal.

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Margaret Trudeau, Alexandre Trudeau Paid Thousands To Speak At WE Charity Events – HuffPost Canada

July 9th, 2020

Christopher Katsarov/CP

Margaret Trudeau speaks to the audience at fans at the We Day event in Toronto on Sept. 20, 2018.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s mother and brother have each been paid tens of thousands of dollars over last four years to speak at events organized by WE Charity, the organization originally tapped to administer a $900-million government aid program.

WE Charity confirmed details of Margaret and Alexandre Trudeau’s speaking fees Thursday, which were first reported by Canadaland and CBC News.

The developments add a new layer to a growing controversy over the prime minister’s personal ties to the Toronto-based international charity, which is now at the heart of an investigation by the federal ethics commissioner.

Watch: Trudeau draw big cheers at 2017 WE Day UN event in New York

WE Charity told HuffPost Canada in an emailed statement Thursday that Margaret Trudeau received honorariums to participate in “WE Day” events, where speakers address thousands of young people.

“Margaret Trudeau had her speaking fees sponsored by ME to WE Social Enterprise, and was paid via Spotlight Speakers’ Bureau,” the organization said. ME to WE Social Enterprise is the WE organization’s separate, for-profit entity.

“Margaret Trudeau spoke to the students primarily on the topic of mental health. During 2016-2020, Margaret Trudeau spoke at approximately 28 events and has received a total of approximately $250,000 in speaking honorariums via Speakers Spotlight (approximately $312,000 in total payments to the speakers’ bureau, minus a 20 per cent commission to the bureau),” the statement reads.

Alexandre Trudeau received $32,000 for speaking at eight events “during the 2017-2018 academic year,” minus a 20 per cent commission of $8,000 to the Spotlight Speakers’ Bureau, the charity said.

However, in what the group has called an “error in billing/payment” that was discovered after an internal review process, WE Charity paid Spotlight Speakers’ Bureau directly for a number of Margaret Trudeau’s speeches and was “reimbursed by ME to WE Social Enterprise for their sponsorship of the speeches.”

“The amount paid from the charity to Speakers Spotlight was approximately $64,000,” the statement reads. “This was an error and corrected by accounting. All speeches by Alexandre Trudeau were paid by ME to WE Social Enterprise.”

The organization said “Justin Trudeau has never been paid by WE Charity or ME to WE Social Enterprise for any speeches or other matters.”

Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, the prime minister’s wife, “has participated in six WE Day events over eight years,” the organization said, and has spoken at more than a dozen other youth events. 

WE Charity said Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, who serves as an “ambassador” for the organization, is not paid for the WE Well-Being podcast she hosts with Leysa Cerswell Kielburger, the wife of WE co-founder Craig Kielburger.

“Other than the reimbursement of expenses, the only payment that Sophie Gregoire Trudeau has ever received from WE Charity or ME to WE Social Enterprise was in 2012,” the organization said. “It was a one-time speaking honorarium of $1,400 for her participation at a youth event.”

Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion announced Friday he will investigate if Prime Minister Justin Trudeau violated the Conflict of Interest Act when the government awarded WE Charity a sole-sourced contract in June to administer a $912-million program placing post-secondary students and recent graduates with paid volunteer opportunities. 

PM didn’t recuse himself from WE decision

The group and the government ended the partnership last week amid questions about the Trudeau family’s links to charity and accusations of cronyism from opposition MPs. WE Charity stood to receive $19.5 million to run the program.

The prime minister confirmed at a press conference Wednesday that he did not recuse himself from the cabinet decision to give WE Charity the since-scrapped contract.

“No, I did not,” he told reporters. “I had long worked on youth issues both before I got into politics and since I’ve been in politics as youth critic, getting young people involved in serving their country, recognizing their desire to build a better Canada, particularly through this time of crisis is something I believe in deeply.”

In an emailed statement to HuffPost Canada Thursday, Trudeau spokesperson Chantal Gagnon said the “prime minister’s relatives engage with a variety of organizations and support many personal causes on their own accord. 

“What is important to remember here is that this is about a charity supporting students. The Canada Student Service Grant program is about giving young people opportunities to contribute to their communities, not about benefits to anyone else.”

Recall Parliament, Tories demand

In a statement Thursday afternoon, Conservative ethics critic Michael Barrett called the revelations scandalous.

“We know now that Justin Trudeau handed almost a billion-dollar contract to a charity that not only had close ties to the Liberal Party, but which paid his family almost $300,000,” Barrett said.

“Parliament must immediately be recalled so that we can get to the bottom of this. All of the documents related to the contract must be made public. Every single cabinet minister needs to come clean about whether or not they knew that the prime minister’s family had a financial relationship with WE Charity when they approved this massive contract.”

Barrett also called on the ethics watchdog to “accelerate his investigation,” and asked the auditor general and procurement ombudsman to launch their own probes. Tories wrote to the federal procurement watchdog last week to review other smaller, sole-sourced contracts between the Liberal government and WE Charity.

The ethics investigation is Trudeau’s third since becoming prime minister in late 2015. Last year, Mario Dion found the prime minister improperly pressured his former attorney general, Jody Wilson-Raybould, to intervene in the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin. In 2017, then-ethics watchdog Mary Dawson found Trudeau breached conflict rules when he accepted family vacations on the Aga Khan’s private island.

With files from Althia Raj

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PM Trudeau’s mother, brother and wife paid to speak at WE Charity events – CTV News

July 9th, 2020

OTTAWA — Members of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s family were paid a total of nearly $300,000 over the last four years to speak at WE Charity events.

The charity group is at the centre of an ethics investigation into Trudeau.

Trudeau’s mother, Margaret Trudeau, spoke at approximately 28 events and was paid $250,000 in speaking honorariums between 2016 and 2020. His brother, Alexandre Trudeau, also spoke at eight events from 2017 to 2018 and was paid a total of approximately $32,000.

Over $60,000 of that money, which is typically doled out by corporate sponsors, was paid directly to Margaret Trudeau by the charity as the result of what WE Charity referred to as an “error” in billing and payment.

In addition to this, Trudeau’s wife, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, received a “one-time speaking honorarium” of $1,400 for participating in a youth event in 2012 before Trudeau became leader of the Liberal Party. The organization said all her other time spent participating in WE events and hosting a podcast series for the charity was “donated.” This was confirmed to CTV News by Martin Perlmuter, president and CEO of Speakers’ Spotlight.

WE Charity also confirmed the payments made to Trudeau’s mother and brother in statements sent to CTV News, shortly after Canadaland, which has reported extensively on WE, first broke the story on Twitter.

WE Day is an event that WE Charity organizes alongside corporate partners who sponsor speakers to participate. One of those corporate sponsors is ME to WE Social Enterprise, which was the organization that paid Margaret Trudeau’s speaking fees through the Speakers’ Spotlight Speakers’ Bureau. Alexandre Trudeau was also paid through Speakers’ Spotlight.

However, while the two were paid a total of over $300,000 to speak at the events, over $60,000 of Margaret Trudeau’s speaking fees were paid directly by the charity.

The charity called this an “error in billing/payment” that was discovered through an “internal review.”

“For these speeches the charity paid the speakers’ bureau directly, and the charity was reimbursed by ME to WE Social Enterprise for their sponsorship of the speeches,” WE Charity said in a statement sent to CTV News.

WE Charity said neither they nor ME to WE Social Enterprise have ever paid Justin Trudeau for any speeches or other matters. He has also spoken at a number of WE events globally.

Sophie Gregoire Trudeau is an ambassador with the organization and hosts a mental health podcast under its name.

In an emailed statement sent to CTVNews.ca, Chantal Gagnon, a spokesperson for the Prime Minister’s Office, said Trudeau’s relatives “engage with a variety of organizations and support many personal causes on their own accord.”

“What is important to remember here is that this is about a charity supporting students. The Canada Student Service Grant program is about giving young people opportunities to contribute to their communities, not about benefits to anyone else,” she said in the statement.

However, the charity is already at the centre of an ethics investigation into Trudeau over his potential conflict of interest with the organization.

The federal ethics commissioner launched an investigation into Trudeau last Friday over his government’s now-cancelled decision to have WE Charity manage a $900-million federal program, which is slated to pay students and new graduates for their volunteer work this summer.

While the charity has backed out of the management of the program following days of controversy, Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion said in a letter addressed to Conservative MP Michael Barrett that the Tory MP’s request for an investigation “satisfies the requirements” laid out in the Conflict of Interest Act.

Specifically, Barrett alleges that Trudeau violated a provision in the Act that “prohibits public office holders from making any decision or participating in the making of a decision that furthers their private interests or improperly furthers the private interests of another person.”

He claims that Trudeau had a duty to recuse himself from any discussion or decision relating to WE Charity, given the prime minister’s close ties to the organization and his wife’s involvement, and that Trudeau violated the Act when he announced that WE Charity would administer the Canada Student Service Grant.

Barrett also alleges Trudeau violated another section of the Act that deals with affording preferential treatment when he said WE Charity was the “only organization” qualified to run the program — given the existence of other national volunteer organizations.

The ethics watchdog found that Barrett’s allegations satisfied the requirements of the Act and has launched an investigation into both possible contraventions. Dion notes in his letter that Trudeau has been informed of the investigation.

Gagnon said in a statement sent to CTVNews.ca on Friday that the prime minister plans to “collaborate” with the commissioner and will “answer any questions he may have.”

‘JUSTIN TRUDEAU MUST STEP ASIDE’

Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet has called on the prime minister to “step aside” while the commissioner investigates.

“In light of new revelations, Justin Trudeau must step aside as Prime minister until the ethics commissioner’s investigation is completed,” he told CTV News in a statement on Friday.

Blanchet wasn’t the only political voice calling for action after the latest news. Barrett, the Conservative MP who was one of those who initially requested the ethics commissioner investigation, released a statement calling on Parliament to be recalled “immediately” to “get to the bottom of this.”

“All of the documents related to the contract must be made public. Every single Cabinet Minister needs to come clean about whether or not they knew that the Prime Minister’s family had a financial relationship with WE Charity when they approved this massive contract,” Barrett said in the statement.

“Canadians deserve answers and the Prime Minister and his government must be held accountable.”

NDP MP Charlie Angus also weighed in on the latest revelation during a Thursday interview with CTV News Channel. He called the development “disturbing.”

“Now we learn that throughout his time as prime minister, his family members were receiving enormous amounts of money. How is he not aware of that? I find that hard to believe,” said Angus.

MPs have taken steps to dig into the issue using the parliamentary tools available to them. The House standing committee on government operations and estimates voted on Thursday night to undertake a study into the government’s now-cancelled decision to grant WE Charity the sole-sourced contract, which comes in addition to the recently agreed upon House finance committee study into the same issue.

With files from CTV News’ Mackenzie Gray

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Court rules Trump’s not free from investigations, but tax returns can stay private for now – Global News

July 9th, 2020

The U.S. Supreme Court issued a mixed verdict Thursday on demands for President Donald Trump‘s financial records that will keep his tax returns, banking and other documents out of the public eye for the time being.

By 7-2 votes, the justices upheld the Manhattan district attorney’s demand for Trump’s tax returns, but kept a hold on Trump’s financial records that Congress has been seeking for more than a year.

But Trump, who has strenuously sought to keep his financial records private, didn’t immediately regard the outcome as a victory.

Read more: Supreme Court agrees to hear Trump’s pleas to keep tax info private

“The Supreme Court sends case back to Lower Court, arguments to continue. This is all a political prosecution,” Trump wrote in a series of angry tweets that followed the court rulings.

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The justices rejected arguments by Trump’s lawyers and the Justice Department that the president is immune from investigation while he holds office or that a prosecutor must show a greater need than normal to obtain the records. The tax returns are being sought as part of a grand-jury investigation.

Because the grand jury process is confidential, the rulings make it likely that none of Trump’s financial records will become public soon.

Trump’s two high court appointees, Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, joined the majority in both cases along with Chief Justice John Roberts and the four liberal justices. Roberts wrote both opinions.

3:25Cohen says Trump deflated assets to avoid paying higher taxes

Cohen says Trump deflated assets to avoid paying higher taxes

“Congressional subpoenas for information from the President, however, implicate special concerns regarding the separation of powers. The courts below did not take adequate account of those concerns,” Roberts wrote in the congressional case.

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The ruling returns the case to lower courts, with no clear prospect for when the case might ultimately be resolved.

The tax returns case also is headed back to a lower court, but Trump’s major arguments have now been rejected.

Justice Samuel Alito, who dissented with Justice Clarence Thomas in both cases, warned that future presidents would suffer because of the decision about Trump’s taxes.

Read more: Trump’s Tulsa rally ‘more than likely’ behind new coronavirus surge: health official

“This case is almost certain to be portrayed as a case about the current President and the current political situation, but the case has a much deeper significance,” Alito wrote. “While the decision will of course have a direct effect on President Trump, what the Court holds today will also affect all future Presidents — which is to say, it will affect the Presidency, and that is a matter of great and lasting importance to the Nation.”

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said his investigation, on hold while the court fight played out, will now resume.

“This is a tremendous victory for our nation’s system of justice and its founding principle that no one — not even a president — is above the law. Our investigation, which was delayed for almost a year by this lawsuit, will resume, guided as always by the grand jury’s solemn obligation to follow the law and the facts, wherever they may lead,” Vance said.

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1:24Trump blows off threat of Congressional investigation into his finances

Trump blows off threat of Congressional investigation into his finances

The case was argued by telephone in May because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The fight over the congressional subpoenas has significant implications regarding a president’s power to refuse a formal request from Congress. In a separate fight at the federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., over a congressional demand for the testimony of former White House counsel Don McGahn, the administration is making broad arguments that the president’s close advisers are “absolutely immune” from having to appear.

Read more: Neil Young writes Trump open letter after U.S. president continues to use his music

In two earlier cases over presidential power, the Supreme Court acted unanimously in requiring President Richard Nixon to turn over White House tapes to the Watergate special prosecutor and in allowing a sexual harassment lawsuit against Clinton to go forward.

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In those cases, three Nixon appointees and two Clinton appointees, respectively, voted against the president who chose them for the high court. A fourth Nixon appointee, William Rehnquist, sat out the tapes case because he had worked closely as a Justice Department official with some of the Watergate conspirators whose upcoming trial spurred the subpoena for the Oval Office recordings.

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The subpoenas are not directed at Trump himself. Instead, House committees want records from Deutsche Bank, Capital One and the Mazars USA accounting firm. Mazars also is the recipient of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance’s subpoena.

Appellate courts in Washington, D.C., and New York brushed aside the president’s arguments in decisions that focused on the fact that the subpoenas were addressed to third parties asking for records of Trump’s business and financial dealings as a private citizen, not as president.

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Two congressional committees subpoenaed the bank documents as part of their investigations into Trump and his businesses. Deutsche Bank has been one of the few banks willing to lend to Trump after a series of corporate bankruptcies and defaults starting in the early 1990s.

Vance and the House Oversight and Reform Committee sought records from Mazars concerning Trump and his businesses based on payments that Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, arranged to keep two women from airing their claims of decade-old extramarital affairs with Trump during the 2016 presidential race.

© 2020 The Canadian Press

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