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WE Charity board told speakers at WE days not paid, former chair says

OTTAWA — The former chair of WE Charity’s board of directors says the board was explicitly told that speakers at the organization’s popular youth events known as “WE days” were not paid for speaking.

Michelle Douglas, who resigned in March from the board of WE Charity, is testifying today at the House of Commons finance committee.

She says the board made direct inquiries about whether speakers for WE days were paid, and says the organization’s executive director assured the board that they were not.

The WE organization confirmed earlier this month it has paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in speaking fees to members of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s family.

Trudeau’s mother Margaret Trudeau was paid about $250,000 for 28 speaking appearances at WE-related events between 2016 and 2020 and his brother Alexandre has been paid $32,000 for eight events, according to WE.

Trudeau’s wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau received $1,400 in 2012 for a single appearance that year.

Douglas also says she resigned from the board after the charity began a series of mass layoffs but refused to provide her financial justification for them.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 28, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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