Photo: Nick Iwanyshyn The Canadian Press The daily newspaper “The Globe and Mail” reported in the winter of 2023 that China wanted to influence the current Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, through a donation of one million dollars to the university foundation which bears his father's name, citing intelligence sources.
The independent investigation into a controversial Chinese donation to the Pierre-Elliott-Trudeau Foundation concludes that there were “human errors” in the issuance of receipts, but does not detect any hidden intention to influence the Government of Canada.
“We have not identified any evidence that would suggest that the donations in question were part of an interference scheme,” states the summary of the investigation conducted by the firm Norton Rose Fulbright Canada, dated Friday.
Two legal advisers hired to shed light on a donation from a Chinese businessman, made in two payments totaling $140,000 in 2016 and 2017, detected nothing illegal on his part. They confirmed that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau played no role in this matter.
The authors agree that it remains possible that this donation “could have been part of a larger influence scheme”, although they conclude that the Foundation had no idea whether this The sum had been reimbursed by the Chinese government, as reported by a Canadian intelligence source cited by The Globe and Mail last year.
- The Trudeau Foundation reached out to the Chinese
- UdeM asked that Alexandre Trudeau sign for the controversial Chinese donation
One of the main criticisms expressed against the Trudeau Foundation is that it placed too much trust in the University of Montreal to verify the legitimacy of donors. “The Foundation had carried out very little due diligence on potential donors who were parties to the pledge, and instead relied on the University of Montreal,” we read.
However, even if the Foundation had carried out the verifications in accordance with good practices in the philanthropic field, it would still have been “reasonable” for it to conclude the agreement.
Le Devoirhad reported that it was in fact the University of Montreal which was to receive a donation of one million dollars from Chinese businessman Zhang Bin, before the Trudeau Foundation got involved to obtain its share, initially estimated at $200,000, for the use of the late Prime Minister's name. The report corroborates this timeline.
Explanations on receipts
The independent investigation was ordered by the interim board of directors of the Trudeau Foundation, in turmoil since the en masse resignation of its directors last spring.
His ex-CEO Pascale Fournier slammed the door in April, saying she was unable to choose herself who would lead this investigation.
She had suggested to a parliamentary committee in Ottawa that she found the $140,000 donation suspicious since her research showed irregularities in the information contained in the charitable receipts, which were allegedly modified at the request of a nearby organization of the Chinese government. A former Foundation executive had denied any impropriety.
The independent investigation confirms that the date of issue and the address of the donor are not the correct ones on one of the receipts, which constitutes a possible violation of the Income Tax Act. income, but not to the Canada Not-for-Profit Corporations Act. Likewise, the presence of the name of a second donor on a receipt constitutes an irregularity. These problems are attributed to simple errors or inadequate procedures.
“Based on the information to which we had access, it is more likely than not that the issues identified in connection with the issuance of receipts were the result of human error, misunderstandings, staff turnover, lack of adequate procedures governing the issuance of receipts and/or a lack of supervision and monitoring rather than the result of intentional conduct,” details the decision-making summary of the investigation by the independent special committee.
The daily newspaper The Globe and Mail reported in the winter of 2023 that China wanted to influence the current Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau , through a million-dollar donation to the university foundation that bears his father's name, citing intelligence sources to whom Le Devoir did not have access.
The opposition in Ottawa also demanded and obtained last summer the resignation of the special rapporteur on foreign interference, former Governor General David Johnston, notably on the basis that the latter was a member of the Trudeau Foundation and that this organization was targeted by such allegations.
Two Montreal lawyers from the firm Norton Rose Fulbright Canada, Me Stéphane Eljarrat and Me Frédéric Plamondon, submitted their investigation report on the entire affair on February 2. The Pierre-Elliott-Trudeau Foundation sent its decision-making summary to the Devoir on Monday, February 5, and made it accessible on its website.