Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. (Reuters)
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Ottawa – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has denied playing any role in picking a charity with ties to his family to manage a major government programme.
Testifying to the House of Commons, he rejected any involvement by him or his staff in the programme that has caused a huge political controversy in Canada.
Trudeau is under scrutiny for failing to recuse himself from decisions around the programme.
He is being investigated by a federal ethics watchdog for failing to do so.
On Thursday, Trudeau told the finance committee in Ottawa that the decision to tap WE Charity for the student volunteerism programme was made independently by the federal public service.
He says he only learned that the charity had been recommended by the public service for the programme in early May.
WE Charity had previously paid the prime minister's mother and brother to speak at events between 2017-18 and Trudeau and his wife were involved with the organisation.
The prime minister says he knew that there would be scrutiny over the agreement because of those ties, so he asked bureaucrats to "do their due diligence" when he first learned of the plan to have them manage the programme.
He said they came back two weeks later and told him that WE Charity was the only organisation that could administer the programme.
"WE Charity received no preferential treatment not from me, not from anyone else," he told parliamentarians.
Opposition MPs on Thursday accused Trudeau of throwing the public service "under the bus". (Reuters)