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NDP says documents prove youth minister played key role in WE controversy

BY , Sep 1, 2020 5:30 PM - REPORT AN ERROR

NDP MP Charlie Angus speaks to reporters as he thumbs through a document following a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Federal New Democrats are turning their aim on Youth Minister Bardish Chagger, suggesting she was the key driver in the Liberal government's decision to have WE Charity run a multimillion-dollar student-volunteer program.

NDP ethics critic Charlie Angus says government documents released last month show Chagger was instrumental in connecting WE with federal officials and developing the now-defunct Canada Student Service Grant program.

The government has insisted that federal bureaucrats were responsible for recommending WE administer the program, which was billed as having a budget of $912 million and aimed to reward students for volunteering during COVID-19.

But Angus says the documents contradict those assertions and Chagger's own testimony to a Commons committee in July.

Angus says he doesn't see how Chagger can continue to serve in cabinet, and says the government should take the money that was set aside for the grant program and use it to help pay down student debt.

Angus sidestepped questions about whether the NDP would support the government when the Liberals present a new throne speech on Sept. 23.

He said his party hopes to work with the Liberals on goals they share and the Liberals will have to decide how much they're willing to co-operate.

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