PMO didn't direct me to choose WE for volunteer program: Chagger

Bardish Chagger seen here in this photo from her website.

The federal youth minister says she was not directed by the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's office to make an agreement with WE Charity to run a federal volunteering program, a deal that has since been aborted and mired in ethical questions.

Bardish Chagger tells the House of Commons finance committee that she didn't personally have conversations with Trudeau's office, or that of Finance Minister Bill Morneau, prior to cabinet approval of the deal.

She says a senior official at the department of Employment and Social Development Canada made the recommendation in writing that WE was the only organization in the country that could run and scale up the $912-million student grant program.

WE Charity could have received up to $43.53 million to administer the program had it landed up to 40,000 placements, double the original 20,000 envisioned in the program, she says.

But Chagger is less clear about other details, including how many positions the program was supposed to create for students or who in her office spoke with the Prime Minister's Office about the deal, under questioning by opposition MPs.

Chagger and some senior public servants are the first witnesses before the committee as it begins the first parliamentary probe of how WE got selected to administer the Canada Student Service Grant.