Guest Host Angela Kokott speaks with Tawfiq Rangwala, the Author of “What we Lost: Inside the Attack on Canada’s Largest Charity”.
Review from the public
I am glad to read about all “We” did in assisting with covid, turning the college into a hospital, and getting supplies to the area to protect their friends in the district. This book is well written and provides the background of the real story.
Review from the public
The attack on Canada’s largest Children’s Charity was a travesty. I was anxious to read this exhaustive investigation into how it happened. Its author, Tawfiq Rangwala was “in the room” and he uses his preeminent work in the field of fighting injustice to tell the real story.
Review from the public
I am glad to read about all “We” did in assisting with covid, turning the college into a hospital, and getting supplies to the area to protect their friends in the district. This book is well written and provides the background of the real story.
Review from the public
Through deep analysis and insightful reporting, Rangwala presents a thrilling and disturbing review of the “WE Scandal, disgracing all parties concerned, but especially our politicians and media, looking for short-term clicks at the expense of thousands of young people. Shame indeed.
As We Know It – Literary Review of Canada
An excerpt from the Literary Review of Canada:
In September 2021, Craig and Marc Kielburger, the brothers who created a tiny NGO called Free the Children and turned it into an international network of charities, companies, and foundations, announced that their $65-million centrepiece, WE Charity Canada, would fold. It had taken twenty-five years to build but only seventy-nine days to bring it down, during which time there were hundreds of radio and television reports and, by Tawfiq S. Rangwala’s estimation, 129,000 references in the press. WE’s alleged failings were legion: unbridled Trudeau family cronyism resulting in a sole-source $543-million government contract for WE Charity, an unfathomable tangle of non-profit and for-profit entities, conflicts of interest, corruption, financial mismanagement, a hidden real estate empire worth tens of millions of dollars, extensive donor fraud, even racism. As Rangwala writes, “Everything the organization had ever done became fodder for scrutiny, and eventually, suspicion and scorn.”
Rangwala is not an objective bystander. He is a Canadian lawyer based in New York who served on the WE Charity board of directors for several years, stepping down in 2021 to put together this account. He, like other insiders and supporters, was stunned at the speed and the ugliness of what happened two years ago, and in What WE Lost, he makes a credible witness for the defence. There is a gap in the story, however: one that might be called What WE Never Had.
In 1995, when he was twelve, Craig Kielburger read an article about a young human rights activist in Pakistan who had been murdered for his condemnation of child labour in the carpet industry. Helped by his parents and his older brother, Marc, Craig began travelling, raising funds, and speaking out against child labour. With a new charitable organization, Free the Children, and with a book of the same name under his belt, he was soon being lionized by politicians, celebrities, and the media — including 60 Minutes and Oprah Winfrey. Money followed, and the organization grew. By 2020, it was renamed WE Charity and working in nine countries throughout Asia, South America, and Africa, with projects in Kenya as its flagship. It had major endeavours in Canada as well, partnering with schools — eventually thousands of them — to promote volunteerism and service learning about social issues, mental health, and Indigenous youth leadership.
Inside Canada’s WE Charity Scandal: It’s Not What You Think
A Canadian scandal holds a mirror up to media and politics in Canada, with implications for the US and other advanced democracies, and it’s not a pretty picture.
In this episode, host Allan Marks speaks with Milbank Litigation partner Tawfiq Rangwala about his new book What WE Lost: Inside the Attack on Canada’s Largest Children’s Charity, misinformation and political gamesmanship. What WE Lost, which is a national bestseller in Canada, offers a behind-the-scenes account of the rise and fall of WE Charity, a Canada-based non-profit focused on youth empowerment programs and international development work. In 2020, WE Charity became embroiled in a political scandal that almost brought down the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
New Book “What WE Lost” Explores Question – Can Years Of Political Propaganda Be Undone?
It is hard to imagine a time in human history like the last two to three years… From pandemic disinformation, to Russian propaganda that fuels its unjust war in Ukraine, to attempts to overturn the US federal election, we have come to accept that a level of lying will be present in every major event or issue of our day.
But we should never quietly allow the levels of disinformation we are seeing today. Once society accepts lying on a mass scale, the truth is forever obscured.
These themes are explored in a new book by Tawfiq Rangwala called What WE Lost – Inside the Attack on Canada’s Largest Children’s Charity. The book tells the story of the so-called “WE Charity political scandal” that erupted in the first summer of COVID (2020), and the impact on the key players and the former benefactors of the charity itself.
In the spring of 2020, WE Charity was asked by the Government of Canada to quickly launch a massive student grant program to help offset the loss of student jobs in the summer ahead due to the pandemic. The charity scrambled to stand up a program that could match students with not for profit organizations to earn a grant based on the number of hours they served. WE Charity was asked to manage the program and disburse the grants.
But shortly after the program – known as the Canada Student Service Program (CSSG) – was announced, opposition politicians and the media cried foul due to the fact that Margaret Trudeau, the Prime Minister’s mother, had worked as a speaker at some of WE’s public events. The PM’s wife, Sophie, had also volunteered for the charity, and former Minister of Finance, Bill Mourneau, was a past donor and received a free service trip.
For the opposition and the media, this all added up to a scandal, and they collectively took to attacking the Canadian charity as a proxy for attacking Trudeau. It was a successful strategy that led to months of daily headlines, live coverage of Parliamentary Standing committee, Morneau’s resignation from Cabinet, and ultimately, the demise of WE Charity’s operations in Canada.
As a lawyer and former member of WE Charity’s board of directors, Rangwala provides an inside look at the lead-up to the awarding of the CSSG, the ensuing media circus, and the clever leveraging of the affair by opposition parties to attack the Trudeau government. MPs Charlie Angus and Pierre Poilievre are heavily featured for their constant repetition of untrue or torqued statements, both in Parliament and in the media.
A favourite was Angus’ ongoing use of the term “billion dollar program”, which he used to characterize the size of the contract between WE Charity and the government. In fact, the contract amount was barely half of that, with the charity only taking a small cut to administer the program and deliver the grants to the students at the end of the summer.
But in keeping with the theme, the lie was repeated enough such that the “billion dollar program” label sticks to this day.
The book also serves as a compelling case study of the Canadian media’s role in not simply reporting on a story, but becoming part of it. Such was the scenario when long-time WE Charity antagonist and publisher of Canadaland, Jesse Brown, agreed to testify before the parliamentary committee charged with investigating the CSSG contract.
Similarly, the What WE Lost chronicles the suspect tactics of journalists from the CBC’s The Fifth Estate who went to questionable lengths to try and justify their stories about WE Charity allegedly misleading donors about its operations in Kenya. The charity is currently suing the CBC over those pieces.
On a macro level, Rangwala examines how disinformation from those in power, abetted by media with their own agendas, can have significant effects on ordinary companies, organizations and individuals that have nothing to do with politics, power or the media.
It is a cautionary tale which demonstrates that disinformation is not just reserved for super powers like Russia or the US Republican party. Even relatively small-time politicians like Charlie Angus can create narratives that are eagerly taken up by the media, repeated again and again, with the truth being left on the cutting room floor.
A new book takes a closer look at the WE Charity scandal
Tawfiq Rangwala, author, “What WE Lost: The Attack on Canada’s Largest Children’s Charity“
Tawfiq goes on the Shaye Ganam show to discuss his new book about the WE Charity scandal listen to the interview below:
The Top 10 Most Shocking Revelations in the New Book about WE Charity
A new book offering an insider’s view of what really happened with WE Charity and the Canada Student Service Grant (CSSG) – the political scandal that shook Canada in the first summer of the COVID 19 pandemic – has bookshelves across the country.
Written by lawyer and former WE Charity Board member Tawfiq S. Rangwala, “What WE Lost” takes readers behind the scenes of the biggest political story of the pandemic and chronicles not just the loss of one of Canada’s most respected charities, but of the damage done to those in the developing world, thousands of miles from halls of Parliament.
From the offices of WE Charity in the months leading up to the announcement of the program in June 2020; to Parliamentary committee meetings where MPs used shaky tactics and strategic leaks to attack the charity in a proxy war against the Justin Trudeau government; to Canadian newsrooms where journalists amplified the rhetoric of politicians and WE’s detractors; and finally, to the villages of Kenya where the true cost of the scandal could be measured in lost lives, cancelled education programs and shuttered water projects; the book provides completely new perspective on these extraordinary events.
Here are the Top 10 most shocking revelations in the book:
- Journalist Reed Cowan tried to extort $20 million from WE Charity
Many will remember the US television anchor’s emotional testimony before the Parliamentary committee examining the Canada Student Service Grant program, but few know that Cowan had sent a letter to WE Charity demanding $20 million USD to buy his silence. No Canadian media has ever reported on the threat, despite it being covered by the Washington Post.
- Why Michelle Douglas, former Chair of WE Charity’s Board of Directors, really left the organization
Politicians, media reports and even Ms. Douglas’ own testimony painted her as a whistleblower and hero standing up to the organization’s founders. In fact, the reason she left was because in March 2020 (as the COVID-19 pandemic hit North America), senior management at WE Charity saw the economic writing on the wall and knew the charity had to initiate layoffs to survive the pandemic. One of those to be laid off was Douglas’ sister – a move which she vocally opposed. The conflict of interest became so blatant and uncomfortable for senior leaders, that the founders of WE Charity asked Douglas to step down.
- WE Charity is suing the CBC over “false and defamatory reports” by The Fifth Estate
Despite two years of non-stop media coverage about every aspect of the WE organization, no mainstream Canadian media reported on WE Charity’s lawsuit against the CBC. Filed in February 2022, the suit accuses CBC of false and misleading reporting in a series of stories by The Fifth Estate that claimed WE Charity had deceived its donors about projects in Kenya.
- Canadaland Publisher, Jesse Brown, was roasted by other Journalists for testifying before a Parliamentary Committee
When Brown announced on Twitter that was going to testify about WE Charity before the Finance Committee (something no other Canadian journalist has ever agreed to do), his peers were quick to pounce. Global News’ Chief Political Correspondent, David Akin responded to Brown’s tweet, writing “Why? Was there something you neglected to report on that you are going to tell the committee? Terrible precedent.” James McLeod of the Financial Post wrote: “As with many Jesse Brown things, it’s fun to imagine how Jesse Brown would react if a journalist at the cbc or a legacy media outlet did this.” Althia Raj (then of the Huffington Post) wrote “I’m sorry but this is ridiculous. Mr. Brown.”
- WE Charity was found guilty of… nothing
There was no shortage of calls for investigation of WE Charity in summer 2020. Opposition MPs demanded the RCMP, the Lobbying Commissioner, the federal Ethics Commissioner and the Canada Revenue Agency, among others, look into the WE organization. Two years later, none of these entities has found any evidence of wrongdoing on WE’s part, with multiple independent investigations confirming the same. As a Toronto Star headline noted “Forensic analysis exonerates WE Charity”.
- The CBC Allegedly “Harassed” former WE Charity donors
The Fifth Estate’s Mark Kelley and Harvey Cashore went all out in trying to make a story against WE regarding its projects in Kenya. An excerpt from the book states, “one (former WE Charity) donor group received forty-three calls or emails from the CBC and felt they were being harassed. The Fifth Estate team also called one supporter’s local church and another’s ex-husband’s workplace.”
- A Bloomberg reporter in Kenya tried to bribe local school children for quotes
Bloomberg’s African correspondent, David Herbling, is accused of coaching children into saying they were caned while attending WE Charity schools in Kenya, and he allegedly offered some of the children money to say they were abused.
- Charity Intelligence continued to give WE Charity its highest possible rating until July 2020
The charity rating organization and its main spokesperson, Kate Bahen, became media favourites in summer 2020 for allegedly blowing the whistle on WE Charity months before the CSSG was announced (in June 2020). However, as the book points out, this was revisionist history on Ms. Bahen’s part: “When Quebec MP Annie Koutrakis pointed out that Charity Intelligence didn’t downgrade the charity’s rating until July 10, which was after CSSG announcement had been made, Bahen replied, ‘That’s an excellent point. That’s a point our research team will be going through.’”
- WE Founders received death threats after the Toronto Sun published their home address
The Kielburgers received multiple death threats in the weeks after the CSSG was terminated, but the threats peaked after Toronto Sun Columnist, Brian Lilley, published Marc Kielburger’s home address. From the book: “…Lilley published Marc’s home address. As a result, Marc’s and Craig’s families began receiving death threats by phone, email, and tweet, including several directed at their young children. The police had to be contacted on multiple occasions.”
- MPs Accused a WE Employee with a Brain Aneurysm of Overstating his Condition to Avoid Testifying
Members of the Ethics committee (ETHI) demanded that Victor Lee, WE Charity’s CFO, testify in person before the committee. MPs were informed behind closed doors that he could not to the fact that he had recently been diagnosed with a brain aneurysm. But some, including the NDP’s Charlie Angus, were initially unmoved. From the book: “’Seven months in, we have had obstruction, refusals and denials to participate,’ complained Charlie Angus in one committee meeting. He was one of the most vicious in his attacks on Victor Li, downplaying his condition as ‘feeling sick’ and accusing the whole organization of having ‘a sense of entitlement.’”
“What WE Lost”, published by Optimum Publishing International.
Tawfiq Rangwala & Kim Campbell on The Ari Goldkind Show
Author of “What WE Lost: Inside the Attack on Canada’s Largest Charity” Tawfiq Rangwala and Former Prime Minister Kim Campbell joined The Ari Goldkind Show with Ari Goldkind to discuss the new book. You can hear new episodes of The Ari Goldkind Show every Tuesday at 7pm EST on SiriusXM Canada Talks on SXM Channel 167.
What We Lost is a National Best Seller!
Toronto Star bestsellers lists show the books Canadians bought this week
“What We Lost: Inside the Attack on Canada’s Largest Children’s Charity” is a look at WE Charity, the non-profit founded by Craig and Marc Kielburger to mobilize young people to help in underdeveloped countries. The organization went pear-shaped in 2020 after Ottawa awarded a contract to WE to oversee a $900 million student-grant program, a decision subsequently reversed. Political careers took a drubbing and the charity soon suspended Canadian operations. Author Tawfiq S. Rangwala, a New York lawyer, has been a friend of the Kielbergers since school days and sat on the WE board. His perspective is unabashedly an insider’s view.
What You Could Lose: Understanding Good Governance and Risk Management
This is a tale of great achievement and great loss. A tale of innovation and jealousy. A tale of conflicts of interest, governance issues, and risk management.
We do not recommend many books at Better Boards. Better Communities. But we do recommend to you What we lost: Inside the attack on Canada’s largest children’s charity by Tawfiq Rangwala. You can click on the title to order.
But first a summary:
WE Charity had changed the game.
In its 25 years, the international development charity and youth empowerment movement impacted lives the world over. Innovation was at its core: while most charities focus on making the world a better place for our children, WE Charity focused on making better children for our world.
Founded by the ubiquitous Kielburger brothers, WE Charity operated more like a Silicon Valley start-up than a traditional NGO. From creating stadium-filling events with A-list celebrity ambassadors to building schools, infrastructure, a hospital and even a university at lightning speed, the organization was always full-throttle. Its for-profit partner, ME to WE, filled shelves with socially-conscious products that allowed consumers to track the impact of their spending, invited young people and families to visit and work in communities WE Charity supported, and channeled proceeds back into the charity to make it self-sustaining.
Unique and disruptive, WE generated energy, engagement, and accolades. But it also bred misunderstanding and, in some quarters, resentment. With a long history of propelling youth to act in support of myriad causes―making “doing good doable,” the slogan went―WE Charity was the ideal candidate to administer the Canada Student Services Grant (CSSG) program. The program, if it had happened, involved matching students within non-profits in a summer in which Covid had stolen most job opportunities.
And then, WE Charity in Canada was gone. It didn’t crumble. It crashed.
Unwittingly caught in the crosshairs of a partisan fight that reflects the increasing “Americanization” of Canadian politics, WE Charity was forced to shutter its doors in Canada.
Once a media darling with politicians of all stripes clamouring to appear at its events, the charity was suddenly a pariah accused (falsely) of a litany of wrongdoings: political cronyism; governance failures; heavy-handed decision-making by executives; lining the pockets of the founders; manipulating children; mistreating donors; racism and international corruption. Many were shocked. Detractors were delighted. Led by fringe commentators, the media quickly piled on. Allies who spoke out were castigated and forced to take cover. But while most Canadians have heard of the so-called “WE Charity Scandal”―at times forming strong views―few are able to recount the true facts. Misperceptions and confusion have ruled the day. And many of the most important voices―including those of educators and young people―have gone unreported and unheard. In this book, former WE board member and lawyer Tawfiq Rangwala unpacks the evidence and provides the critical context around the headline-grabbing controversies that have shaped the narrative.
Drawing on the factual record, his personal experiences inside the organization, and extensive interviews with supporters and critics, Rangwala cuts through the fog and explains what really happened, why it happened, and who should be held to account. The world needs to have a balanced perspective on what this international charity has achieved while coming to terms with how the two founders handled the controversy in front of the cameras during testimony.
Along the way, we learn what has been lost and the personal cost to Canadians and people around the world.
More than just a story of the rise and fall of an iconic global charity, this is a cautionary tale of the collateral damage that can be leveled by unchecked partisan politics, social media pundits, and sensationalist headlines.
In the end, Canadians are left to ponder whether the real “scandal” is the demise of WE Charity and the values of fair play and due process that most of us hold dear.
So… That was written by the publisher.
Here is my ever so brief review:
Through deep analysis and insightful reporting, Rangwala presents a thrilling if a disturbing review of the “WE Scandal”, disgracing all parties concerned, but especially our politicians and media, looking for short-term clicks at the expense of thousands of young people. Shame indeed.
But here are my lessons for all of us:
- Be wary of single-source contracts, ensuring that it is indeed sole and that necessary policies and protocols have been followed in issuing them, if possible.
- Be prepared for crisis communication, not just releasing positive stories to the press.
- Collaborate and support related agencies to ensure broader impact and diffused support.
- Anticipate risk. This story provides an object and abject lesson.
- And most importantly, review your governance policies – conflict of interest, governance vs. operations, board members as agency volunteers, boards, and their foundations. You get the idea.
Regardless of your size, location or focus, this title and story warrants your attention.
What WE Lost: A Review
Tawfiq Rangwala has written a well-researched, solid account of the destruction of the WE movement in Canada. It’s remarkably clearly written. Rangwala is a lawyer who could have gone too deeply into the weeds of corporate and legal jargon, but What WE Lost is compelling and very readable.
People should read this book. It is the only complete analysis of what happened to WE and its founders. Some of it is heartbreaking: the vicious online threats, the creepy stalking of the Kielburger brothers and their young families, especially after Brian Lilley published the home address of one of them in the Toronto Sun, and, always looming, the ruin of the life’s work of two Canadian heroes. One was a sort of child star who had grown up sane, healthy and still enthusiastic, the other a Rhodes Scholar who could have made a lot of money on Bay Street but decided instead to develop sustaining fundraising systems for charities.
Craig Kielburger was the idealist. Marc was the brother who tried to ensure the fruits of that idealism had sustainable funding, not from donations pried from people through TV ads or by fundraisers on street corners, but from ethical businesses that turned a profit.
Canadian media insisted WE’s structure – a for-profit side feeding money to a charity – was somehow strange and sleazy, when the most basic research would have shown it wasn’t. The Salvation Army’s stores – a retail outlet that is likely familiar to Canadaland’s underpaid employees – raises money for the Salvation Army’s work with the homeless, prisoners, addicts and others in need. 10,000 Villages is the retail outlet of the Mennonite Central Committee, an organization that has rescued many farmers after natural disasters in Canada, and does good works overseas. Oxfam runs stores across Europe, just as Habitat for Humanity does in the U.S.
Ontario law prohibits charities from owning businesses, which was why ME to WE was set up as a separate company from We Charity, and 10,000 Villages is a separate entity from the Mennonite Central Committee and the Mennonite Church. Why does Ontario have such a law, while so many other places don’t? Journalists were so incurious on the WE story that they missed the fact that it was a media issue that generated this law. When Joseph Atkinson, owner of the Toronto Star, died in 1948, he wanted to leave the newspaper to a charity that would fund progressive causes. At the insistence of Globe and Mail publisher George McCullagh, the Ontario government passed a law to stop this from happening. The irony of this is rather sad, since the Star ended up being one of WE’s media critics, then made a lowball offer on their social enterprise headquarters,
The Kielburgers became a victim of Canada’s tall poppy syndrome, which permeates Canadian politics and media. Jesse Brown, a self-styled media critic with no obvious training or talent for the job, decided to take WE down. He has tried to crush any defence of WE since 2019, when he ran his first series of podcasts attacking WE.
I now call Brown’s style of trophy hunting the Jackalope Syndrome. It is becoming the norm in Canada as journalists become more obsessed with trophies and less interested in facts.
Brown, looking for something, anything, to delegitimize this book and intimidate mainstream journalists from giving it the coverage it needs to make it onto bestseller lists, has gone after the author for being a member of WE Charity’s board. But Rangwala doesn’t hide his association with WE. It’s an important part of the story. He gives valuable insights to people like me who are on boards about what went right, what went wrong, and the challenges of board governance.
Rangwala works for an American law firm that did trademark work for WE and was paid a substantial amount of money for doing it. Brown suggests on social media that there is a conflict. There isn’t. It was trademark work – a half-bright journalist could easily parse out who was infringing on WE’s intellectual property – and that work is over. Rangwala says on social media that he didn’t work on the file. And the conflict would be exist if Rangwala took what he knew to the infringing company, not if Rangwala told his story to the public. Brown seems to think lawyers are owned by their clients, and board members are controlled by the organizations they oversee. It’s a very strange conclusion, the type of sloppy thinking Brown brings to much of his coverage.
By that logic, Jody Wilson-Raybould can’t talk about the government of Canada because she used to be in cabinet, and can’t be trusted to write about Parliament because she used to be paid to be an MP.)
Brown’s troll buddies can’t seem to be able to move past Rangwala’s appearance. I have never seen so many vicious anonymous Twitter accounts with fewer than 50 followers and an awful lot to say about WE and anyone who might want to argue there’s more than one side to this story.
I disagree quite strongly with Rangwala’s conclusions about the WE and the Canadian Student Services Grant. Yes, the program was rush. And yes, it would have been better if the program had been thrown open for requests for proposals (RFPs). But let’s take a walk down memory lane.
In early March, 2020, I visited Marc Kielburger at the WE headquarters on Queen Street in Toronto. I was in the city for events leading up to the RBC Charles Taylor Prize. Marc was just back from the London WE Day where Sophie Garneau-Trudeau had caught Covid. It was obvious that Covid was going to spread around the world. Big events like WE Days were about to be cancelled – schools and universities would close about ten days later – and, unknown to me, WE was about to lay off the staff that organized WE events and worked with schools.
Marc and I talked for a while about Covid. With Africa’s lack of medical infrastructure and clusters of high population regions, it seemed Africa and other southern countries would bear the brunt of Covid. The shift at WE was from domestic fundraising to protecting WE’s employees and students in Africa, and to do anything they could to help other Africans.
Within two weeks, federal government offices in Ottawa were empty. Streets that were normally jammed during the week looked the way they did on a typical Sunday. Almost all the federal public service was working from home, as afraid as the rest of us that they’d get Covid. We had all seen the mass grave pictures from Italy and New York, and the video from Wuhan, where some people were dropping dead on the street.
Yet Canada continued to have a government. Its policy-makers unveiled a string of innovative help for businesses and individuals that saved the economy while the stock market crashed and millions of people were laid off. With unemployment at 14% and rising, and millions of Canadians living paycheque to paycheque, something had to be done.
And businesses had to be saved. Stores and offices were shut down, but overhead like rent and taxes had to be paid.
The Trudeau government came out with innovative national relief policies in an astoundingly short period of time. CERB. A moratorium on student loan payments. Help for many businesses to cover their rents. A program of loans and grants to keep businesses afloat. They did this while working from their homes. And, for a while, it seemed anything was possible, including a guaranteed national income based on CERB.
The Canadian Student Services Grant was one of these programs. To have held a competition for the contract would have taken many months, maybe years. WE was the only organization that had the reach into schools, the national infrastructure, the experience with managing projects, and could pivot to this work. I watched many of the later hearings into CSSG and saw nothing that changed my mind.
Perhaps Prime Minister Trudeau and finance minister Bill Morneau should have sat out the discussions. But there was no scandal here, no benefit to Trudeau, no money laundering, kickbacks or anything else to justify the smears of Pierre Poilievre and Charlie Angus.
They tore WE apart in committee meetings months after the initial terror of Covid. Poilievre and Angus both see themselves as leadership material, and they were willing to tear down a kids’ charity to push their own political careers. The assault on WE was cheap and easy for reporters to cover. They could sit in the safety of their homes. Record the sensationalist quotes from political hacks who were playing to the gallery, and get play on the front page and TV newscasts without delving deeper into the story. Canadian journalists, already notorious for their groupthink and pack mentality, recklessly piled onto WE.
Charlie Angus: Always classy
(BTW, how do you think a Pierre Poilievre or Charlie Angus government would have handled pandemic relief? My bet: PM Poilievre would have let people starve, while PM Angus would have dithered with the leaders of PSAC and other public sector unions until people starved.)
Anyway, back to the book.
It’s a solid piece of reporting. Any journalist who covered the “WE Charity Scandal” will, once they overcome their embarrassment, realize the great stories that were missed. Members of the public will finally have a full account of what really happened, and can decide who to blame for the destruction of the country’s largest home-grown charity. Politicians and public servants can read it to see how to do a better job with communications, and to remind themselves that the slightest bit of “gotcha” material can be used to destroy careers and reputations. This book should also be read by any who does corporate or government communications work, though it may induce nightmares.
CTV News: What We Lost Looks at WE Scandal
Author Tawfiq Rangwala joins CTV News with more on his new book and the fallout from the WE Scandal.
Tawfiq Rangwala Guest On Point with Alex Pierson
Guest Host Angela Kokott speaks with Tawfiq Rangwala, the Author of “What we Lost: Inside the Attack on Canada’s Largest Charity”. Tawfiq tells Angela about his new book and what really happened behind the scenes with We Charity.
Let’s get talking
Play the Interview below:
WE Charity Says it Became a Victim of Trudeau Liberals’ Errors
Interview with Tawfiq Rangwala on the Bill Kelly Show
What We Lost: Inside the Attack on Canada’s Largest Children’s Charity. The book—which tells the untold story behind the now infamous WE Charity Scandal—is written by lawyer and former WE Charity board member, Tawfiq Rangwala. He joined us on the Bill Kelly Show to discuss.
GUEST: Tawfiq Rangwala, Author of this book and former WE Charity board member
Play the audio below:
Press Release – What WE Lost Book Launch
Toronto, Ontario Press Release
Under embargo until May 5
A new take on the “WE Charity Scandal” with never before heard interviews, information and accounts that finally reveal the untold story.
Optimum Publishing International releases What We Lost: Inside the Attack on Canada’s Largest Children’s Charity
Trending on National Post today with an exclusive excerpt:
Author: Tawfiq Rangwala
Foreword: The Right Honourable Kim Campbell AudioBook: Narrated by Martin Luther King III Book Launch: May 5 5:30pm to 7:00pm
Go to www.whatwelost.com to register for the event.
“If you bought into the negative narrative about WE Charity, I challenge you to read this book.”
–The Right Honourable Kim Campbell
“I believe in justice, that’s why I was shocked by what happened to WE Charity. It is why I did the audiobook and why you should listen to it”
– Martin Luther King III
What Does This Book Cover:
This book is full of surprises and reveals the true story that the media refused to
It calls out politicians who used WE Charity to further their own partisan
It dedicates an entire chapter to reporting on WE Charity by the CBC’s The Fifth
It identifies who really lost in the end, and the real victims of the WE Charity
It openly addresses criticisms of the charity’s co-founders, the Kielburgers, and reveals missteps and takes stock.
This book is a fact-based, inside account from respected lawyer and former WE Charity board member, Tawfiq Rangwala, who stepped down from the board to author this book and takes readers behind the scenes. The mission: to cut through the headline-grabbing controversies and offer a sober perspective on what really happened, why it happened, who was responsible, and who really paid the price. Rangwala states: “I did not write this book to convince anyone to feel a certain way. I wrote it so the public can finally form a view based on all the facts, and then can fairly judge who really was scandalized and who did the scandalizing.”
Importantly, this book is not a blind defence of WE Charity or the Kielburgers. “They made mistakes, there is blame to be shared, and I do not shy away from revealing the missteps and taking stock.” – Exerpt from What We Lost
In April 2020, the Government of Canada contacted WE Charity to help deliver the Canada Student Service Grant program, which was designed to encourage youth to volunteer with non- profit organizations. WE Charity answered a call to help in the middle of a pandemic, only to be later hung out to dry by politicians of all parties and the media.
But what really happened?
Were the headlines and political soundbites accurate?
Is there more to the story than the narrative suggested by sensationalist headlines?
In What We Lost, author Tawfiq Rangwala uses an evidence-based approach that draws upon first-hand accounts, exclusive interviews, and never-before-published documents to take readers through the untold story that became known as the “WE Charity Scandal”.
Rangwala reveals how Canadian politics have become more vicious and divided than ever, and how politicians like the NDP’s Charlie Angus and Conservative Pierre Poilievre destroyed a homegrown children’s charity for political gain. Rangwala also takes aim at select news organizations that seemed content to peddle misinformation and half-truths in a never-ending pursuit of clicks, likes and shares. It was a scandal whose real casualties—the millions of people the charity served in Canada and worldwide—have yet to be tallied.
“We all know that at the end of the day, politics can be a dirty game. What makes this situation different, though, is that politicians—aided in part by the media—allowed the game to spiral out of control, and in the process, a lot of non-elected people got hurt … Our representatives … need to be held to account for their failure to even acknowledge the damage they caused,” writes Rangwala.
Comparing media reports with the actual evidence—including third-party reviews by some of Canada’s foremost forensic auditors—this book presents readers with shocking information that was until now missed, ignored or hidden from the public. And in doing so the book raises important questions about the media and its relationship with both politics and the truth, as well as the ever-increasing influence of social media in shaping narratives (particularly false ones).
Above all, the reader will finally hear countless voices that were ignored and excluded throughout the scandal: students, teachers, donors, and underprivileged people in countries like Kenya who were key beneficiaries of WE Charity’s work. Hear their stories, and then decide for yourself how you really feel about the WE Charity Scandal and its costs.
“The WE Charity Scandal is a story of how misinformation can take on a life of its own. The results were tragic, and the hardest hit were young people,” said former Prime Minister Kim Campbell.
Published in trade paperback and hardcover editions: 6 x 9, 444 pages, $26.95.
Martin Luther King III narrates the audiobook (along with narration of the Foreword by The Right Honourable Kim Campbell).
Includes a 16-page full-colour photo section documenting the history of WE Charity and the key events that transpired during the WE Charity Scandal.
For radio, newspaper, or TV interviews with the author and additional information, please contact Shayna Haddon 416-841-1045 firstname.lastname@example.org.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tawfiq Rangwala was born and raised in Toronto. He earned his undergraduate degree from McGill University and his law degree from Osgoode Hall Law School. He moved to New York in 2002 to start his career at Milbank LLP, and is a partner in the firm’s Litigation and Arbitration Group. Mr. Rangwala specializes in representing companies and individuals facing investigations by government authorities, conducting sensitive internal investigations across various industries, and litigating and arbitrating a wide range of commercial disputes. He frequently speaks and writes about white-collar defence and government investigations, securities litigation, international arbitration, and issues relating to cybersecurity and technology disputes. Mr. Rangwala serves as the Chair of Milbank’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee and serves on the board of Legal Services NYC. He also devotes a significant portion of his practice to pro bono work, leading high-profile cases involving systemic discrimination and wrongful convictions. He was named Chambers & Partners’ North American Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year in 2021.
OPTIMUM PUBLISHING INTERNATIONAL has been publishing award-winning, cutting- edge books since the 1970s. Its backlist of more than 350 titles includes bestsellers from such celebrated authors as Margaret Trudeau, Greg Clark, Margo Oliver, Fred Brummer, William
Sears and Don Johnston, Patrick Brown, and Sam Cooper. Optimum continues to publish critical and timely books on international and national politics, true crime, and social and political justice, including the explosive 2018 bestseller Takedown: The Attempted Political Assassination of Patrick Brown and James Buddy Day’s Hippie Cult Leader: The Last Words of Charles Manson. In 2020, Optimum published Hidden Hand, How the Chinese Communist Party s Reshaping the World, followed by last year’s bestseller Wilful Blindness by Sam Cooper.
Excerpt: How WE Charity Says it Became a Victim of Trudeau Liberals’ Errors
“It is mind-boggling to me that in addition to failing to recuse themselves, both Trudeau and Morneau did not ask, did not care, or did not perceive how a sole-source contract might appear”
As Posted In the National Post
In the early days of the global pandemic, the Trudeau government wanted to provide students with an opportunity to work during the summer while helping their communities. It announced that the Canada Student Service Grant (CSSG) was to be administered by The WE Charity, part of a well-known organization founded by Toronto brothers Craig and Mark Kielburger. A political maelstrom ensued, leading to the closing of The WE Charity in Canada. In the new book What We Lost, author Tawfiq Rangwala, a Toronto-born lawyer who was on WE Charity’s board, writes that the CSSG announcement came as a shock to WE management and board, as they hadn’t even signed a contract and there were many details to be ironed out. The following is an excerpt from the book.
At a press briefing on July 8, 2020, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was asked by Marieke Walsh of the Globe and Mail if he had recused himself from cabinet discussions about WE Charity and the CSSG. He said no. Then he dodged the question when asked why. “I have long worked on youth issues, both before I got into politics and since I’ve been in politics as a youth critic,” he said. “Getting young people involved in serving their country, recognizing their desire to build a better Canada, particularly through this time of crisis, is something that I believe in deeply.”
Just two days later, the CBC ran a story revealing that Finance Minister Bill Morneau had also failed to recuse himself from conversations about the organization.