Former finance minister Bill Morneau says he is withdrawing from the race to lead the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
In a statement posted to Twitter, Morneau said he failed to receive enough support to become secretary-general of the OECD, an intergovernmental agency that promotes democracy and market economies.
“I am proud to have used this opportunity to talk about issues that matter to Canadians and to the world — the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, the fight against climate change, inclusive growth and seizing the opportunities of the digital world,” Morneau’s statement said.
Morneau resigned suddenly as both finance minister and MP for Toronto Centre in August 2020 while the Liberal government was embroiled in the We Charity scandal. He said at the time that he was thinking of leaving federal politics and running for the top diplomatic post well before the WE Charity affair prompted his sudden departure from cabinet.
My statement on the OECD campaign // Ma déclaration sur ma campagne pour devenir secrétaire général de l’OCDE. pic.twitter.com/mFmtkcmpQ2
Prior to his resignation, both Morneau and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau came under fire for participating in cabinet discussions that led to the awarding of a contract to We Charity for the administration of the federal government’s COVID-19 summer student grants program — despite both men having close personal ties to the organization.
Morneau’s daughter Grace worked at WE in the travel department at the time. His other daughter, Clare, has spoken at WE Day events. Morneau also admitted to belatedly paying back over $41,000 in travel expenses to We Charity for trips he took with the organization to Ecuador and Kenya.
Trudeau has participated in WE events and several of his family members have been paid to do so as well.
Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion ended his investigation into Morneau’s trips in October, saying he accepted the former minister’s contention that he thought he had reimbursed the travel costs. But Dion continues to investigate whether both Trudeau and Morneau breached the Conflict of Interest Act by failing to recuse themselves from cabinet deliberations about WE Charity.