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Gerry ChidiacIt’s time to end the sensationalism about WE Charity.

It’s true that the administration of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government showed a lack of judgment by handing the responsibility for a government-funded volunteer program to an organization that several members of the government and their families have been involved in.

The federal Liberals have not done anything criminal, however, and I would argue that this issue is not even newsworthy. There are few organizations the size of WE in Canada, and it’s unlikely that any other group would have been up for the challenge of organizing such a large volunteer project and getting it off the ground so quickly. WE Charity was the logical choice.

This is also not to say that funding an organized charity was the only way to help students who have lost summer employment due to the COVID-19 crisis. There were other options that should have been considered.

This is also not to say that WE is perfect. Some would argue that its acceptance of corporate sponsorship has caused it to lose focus as a social justice organization. Many would argue as well that the organization has aligned itself too closely with the corporate and political elite in Canada and elsewhere, including the Trudeau family.

At the same time, WE Charity does a great deal of good. In fact, they have been far more successful than I have as a professional educator in raising student awareness of global issues and empowering young people to change the world for the better.

Thousands of students pack arenas across Canada to hear inspirational people tell their stories about overcoming incredible odds, of facing racism and even possible death by responding to these evils with integrity.

Young people collect food to feed the hungry in Canada, they raise money for good causes, and even volunteer to work in overseas projects. Involvement in WE events have been life-changing for thousands of young people.

The scandal here is that opposition parties, primarily the Conservatives, have dragged the name of a legitimate charity through the mud in order to achieve political gain. In addition, the mainstream media has simply jumped on the WE-bashing bandwagon and has failed to report on more significant issues.

With regard to more newsworthy scandals, the Conservatives are no better than the Liberals.   These issues include the following:

  • There’s a war and a humanitarian crisis in Yemen. In response to this, the Canadian government continues to supply military equipment to Saudi Arabia, one of the primary perpetrators in this conflict.
  • While 57 members of Parliament have openly called for the Canadian government to “show meaningful opposition” to Israel’s plan to violate international law and annex portions of Palestinian territory, not one Conservative spoke up on the issue. Members of every other party, including Liberals and independents, have openly challenged Trudeau’s lack of action.
  • Of the 94 Calls to Action presented by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2015 (the year Trudeau took office), only 10 have been completed and only 21 others have even begun. While the situation of Indigenous peoples in Canada is improving, the progress has been painfully slow.

These are only three of the many very important issues that we hear almost nothing about in the media or from Conservative Leader Andrew Sheer.

It’s time for the Conservative Party of Canada and the mainstream Canadian media to stop creating issues where there are none in an effort to discredit Trudeau. The federal Liberals are doing a good job of discrediting themselves, and quite frankly, the Conservatives are even worse.

WE is not a perfect organization but it’s a very good one. The official Opposition and the mainstream media should be ashamed of the damage they have done to their good name.

Gerry Chidiac is an award-winning high school teacher specializing in languages, genocide studies and work with at-risk students.

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