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Commons finance committee to hash out details of Trudeau testimony on WE deal

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OTTAWA - Members of the House of Commons finance committee will meet this afternoon to figure out the details of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's planned testimony.

Trudeau and his chief of staff Katie Telford have agreed to speak with the committee as part of a parliamentary probe into the Liberal government's aborted deal with the WE organization to run a $912-million student-volunteer program.

WE backed out of the program in early July citing the controversy over the Liberals' handing the organization a sole-sourced deal despite its ties to Trudeau and Finance Minister Bill Morneau.

The controversy hasn't abated, with the federal ethics commissioner probing whether Trudeau and Morneau violated conflict-of-interest rules for not recusing themselves from discussions about WE.

Morneau testified before the committee last week and told MPs he had cut a $41,366 cheque earlier in the day to WE for travel expenses the group covered for trips he and his family took three years ago.

Shortly after, Trudeau accepted an invitation to testify, setting up a rare prime ministerial appearance at a House of Commons committee.

This afternoon's meeting is also expected to discuss the logistics surrounding testimony from WE co-founders Craig and Marc Kielburger, the organization's chief financial officer Victor Li, and former board chair Michelle Douglas.

The Kielburgers and Douglas are scheduled to testify before the committee tomorrow afternoon.

The brothers who founded the organization two decades ago said in a statement that they wanted to testify before the committee to set the record straight about the Canada Student Service Grant program.

The program is supposed to provide grants of up to $5,000 depending on the number of hours a student volunteers as part of a government aid program to help defray the cost of school in the fall. It's aimed a students who can't find summer work because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The program has been all but frozen since WE returned it to the government's hands July 2, with the department in charge saying it's working on a transition plan.

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