Tories Blast PM’s Choice of Former Trudeau Foundation Head to Write Report on Election Interference Amid Latest CSIS Leak

Tories Blast PM’s Choice of Former Trudeau Foundation Head to Write Report on Election Interference Amid Latest CSIS Leak
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stands alongside National Defence Minister Anita Anand in Toronto on Feb. 24, 2023. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press)
Marnie Cathcart
2/28/2023
Updated:
3/1/2023

The Conservatives are crying foul over the appointment of former Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation president and CEO Morris Rosenberg to head up a panel examining foreign interference in Canadian elections.

Rosenberg was CEO in 2016 when the Trudeau Foundation received $200,000 in donations from Zhang Bin, a wealthy Chinese businessman tied to the Chinese communist regime, who was also in attendance at a Liberal Party cash-for-access fundraiser event in 2016 with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
The Conservatives issued a statement on the matter late on Feb. 27, just before a Globe and Mail report the following day citing an unnamed national security source saying that in 2014, a Chinese diplomat had instructed Zhang to donate $1 million to the Trudeau Foundation, and that Beijing would reimburse him for the amount.

The source told the Globe that the conversation was captured by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) in 2014, soon after Trudeau became Liberal leader in 2013. According to the Globe, the source said the diplomat and Zhang discussed the upcoming 2015 federal election, and the possibility that the Liberals could defeat the Conservatives to form government.

Shortly after the 2016 fundraiser, Zhang and another Chinese businessman donated $1 million to “honour the memory and leadership” of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau, the Globe says. Of that amount, $200,000 went to the Trudeau Foundation, $50,000 toward the building of a statue of Pierre Trudeau, and $750,000 to the University of Montreal’s faculty of law, where the former prime minister had attended as a student and was later an instructor.

Panel

The Conservatives allege Trudeau handpicked Rosenberg, who is described by the Trudeau Foundation as “a previously appointed Trudeau mentor,” to write a report on foreign interference in the 2021 election.
The development comes following recent reporting based on leaked intelligence documents that China interfered in elections with the goal of electing a Liberal minority government, while obstructing some Conservative candidates.
“For months, Justin Trudeau has repeatedly attempted to deny, minimize and cover up reports of serious interference in Canadian elections,” says the Feb. 27 Conservative Party statement. “Serious questions must be asked about this appointment, and whether the Liberals are actually taking this threat against our democracy seriously.”

When tweeting the release, Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre commented: “Trudeau says we shouldn’t worry about Beijing’s interference in our [elections] because he is having a report drafted on foreign interference. Who drafted it? The former head of the Trudeau Foundation—which got $200k in donations from ... an official from Beijing’s communist government.”

Neither Rosenberg nor the Prime Minister’s Office replied to Epoch Times requests for comment.

Rosenberg, a former deputy minister of foreign affairs, served as president and CEO of the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation from August 2014 to July 2018.

Liberal MP Mark Gerretsen, parliamentary secretary for the leader of the government in the House of Commons, said on Twitter that Poilievre is “playing a very dangerous game here.”

“To take partisan cheap shots at a dedicated public servant is truly irresponsible,” Gerretsen said on Feb. 27. “Morris Rosenberg has faithfully served Canadian (sic) for many years, including under Conservative governments.”

Rosenberg’s report on incidents of foreign interference in the 2021 election is now complete but is not yet available to the public, while the 2019 evaluation was completed about 13 months after the election that year. The panel didn’t make any announcement about foreign interference during the 2019 or 2021 elections.

CCP Ties

Zhang Bin was a member of the 12th National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, a political advisory body within the Chinese communist regime. He was also president of the China Cultural Industry Association (CCIA).

According to the CCIA’s English website, the organization is “empowered to develop China’s cultural industry, to boost the soft power of Chinese culture and advance the campaign of going global of [sic] Chinese culture, while striving to become a social organization with global standing in the cultural field.”

The Epoch Times contacted Zhang for comment but didn’t hear back.

China’s Election Interference

Recent reports by the Globe and Mail and Global News cited secret CSIS documents and intelligence sources detailing widespread election interference by China in Canada’s 2019 and 2021 federal elections.
Among the allegations are that Beijing provided funding to some candidates in the 2019 election; a Chinese diplomat boasting that she helped defeat two Conservative candidates whose positions weren’t favourable to Beijing in the 2021 election; and Chinese authorities wanting the outcome of the 2021 election to be a Liberal minority. A Liberal minority government would best serve Beijing’s interests, while keeping the Liberals’ power in check by opposition parties, a source told the Globe.
The Commons Procedure and House Affairs Committee is currently looking into the allegations in the news reports.

The Conservatives said they will be calling for a separate investigation, and for Rosenberg to appear before the committee to provide “answers on this attempt by the Liberals to paper over serious threats to our democracy.”

The Canadian Press contributed to this report. 
Marnie Cathcart is a former news reporter with the Canadian edition of The Epoch Times.
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