Bloc Leader Calls On Auditor General to Probe Beijing-Linked Donation to Trudeau Foundation

Bloc Leader Calls On Auditor General to Probe Beijing-Linked Donation to Trudeau Foundation
Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet speaks in the foyer of the House of Commons in Ottawa on March 9, 2023. (The Canadian Press/Justin Tang)
Peter Wilson

Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet is calling on the federal Office of the Auditor General to investigate a 2016 Beijing-linked donation sent to the Pierre Elliot Trudeau Foundation, which had said in March that it would return the funds but reportedly never did.

Blanchet posted a letter on Twitter in French on April 13 calling on Auditor General Karen Hogan to use her federal authority to request and investigate documents pertaining to a $200,000 donation sent from a Chinese regime insider to the Trudeau Foundation.
The Bloc leader added that an investigation by the auditor general is “necessary in order to shed light on this matter.”
The donation first came to light in a Feb. 28 Globe and Mail article citing a national security source who said the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) had uncovered a 2014 plan by Beijing to make a $1 million donation to the Trudeau Foundation through a Chinese businessman and regime insider named Zhang Bin.
Of the total planned donation, only $200,000 went to the foundation in 2016. The Foundation said in early March after the news broke that it would return the funding.

“We cannot keep any donation that may have been sponsored by a foreign government and would not knowingly do so,” CEO and president of the foundation Pascale Fournier said at the time.

However, the Quebec-based media outlet La Presse reported on April 12 that the funding was never actually returned, according to five unidentified individuals who had resigned from the Trudeau Foundation on April 11.

The sources said the foundation couldn’t reimburse the real donor because the name on the donation cheque wasn’t the donor’s true identity.

These revelations, in the wake of the wholesale resignation of the directors of the Foundation who deplore a toxic climate, and the absence of an independent investigation, are extremely worrying,” Blanchet wrote in his letter to the auditor general. 

Resignations, ‘Independent Review’

Blanchet was referring to widespread resignations within the Trudeau Foundation following reports that the organization didn’t return the Chinese funding.
The foundation issued a statement on April 11 that the “political climate” surrounding Beijing’s donation “has put a great deal of pressure” on the foundation’s management and its board of directors.
The foundation’s entire leadership team, which included its volunteer board and its president and CEO, all resigned as a result, saying the foundation’s “politicization” had made it “impossible to continue with the status quo.”
The following day, the foundation said in a statement sent to The Epoch Times that prior to the resignations, the board had voted unanimously in favour of the foundation “launching an independent review of its acceptance of the donation with a potential connection to the Chinese government.”

The foundation added that it will be contracting an accounting firm, which itself will be instructed by a law firm, to carry out the review, noting that it has never had previous dealings with either unspecified firms.

Noé Chartier contributed to this report.