Trudeau Decries ‘Partisanship’ in the Wake of Resignation of Trudeau Foundation’s Board and CEO

Trudeau Decries ‘Partisanship’ in the Wake of Resignation of Trudeau Foundation’s Board and CEO
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference in Ottawa on Feb. 17, 2023. (The Canadian Press/Adrian Wyld)
Matthew Horwood
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on April 11 commented on the recent resignation of the Pierre Elliot Trudeau Foundation’s leadership team, accusing Conservative politicians of increasing “polarization and partisanship” that he said led to “unfounded” attacks on the foundation.

“Those people who are trying to get short-term political gain by increasing polarization and partisanship in this country by launching completely unfounded and ungrounded attacks against charities or foundations must not succeed,” Trudeau told reporters in Toronto.

“I have no doubt that the Trudeau Foundation—like foundations and charities that Conservative politicians have attacked in the past—will continue to do excellent work,” he added.

The prime minister’s comments came hours after the volunteer board of directors and the president and CEO of the foundation resigned. In a news release, the board and CEO cited the “political climate surrounding a donation received by the Foundation in 2016” that had “put a great deal of pressure on the Foundation’s management and volunteer Board of Directors, as well as on our staff and our community.”

The statement said three directors have agreed to remain on an interim basis to allow the foundation to continue to meet its obligations “pending Board renewal.”

At the April 11 press conference, Trudeau reiterated that he has suspended his involvement with the foundation since entering politics, saying it’s a “foundation in my father’s name that I have no direct or indirect involvement in.”


The Globe and Mail reported on Feb. 28 that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) had uncovered a plan by Beijing to donate a significant sum to the foundation in 2014 in an attempt to influence Justin Trudeau, who had just been elected Liberal leader the year before.

CSIS reportedly captured a communication in 2014 between an unnamed commercial attaché at a Chinese Consulate in Canada and billionaire Zhang Bin, a political adviser to the Chinese regime.

The attaché reportedly told Zhang to donate $1 million to the foundation, which the regime would then fully reimburse.

The Epoch Times has previously reached out to Zhang for comment but did not receive a response.

In 2016, following a cash-for-access function organized for the prime minister, the Université de Montréal announced Zhang and another Chinese businessman would donate $1 million “to honour the memory and leadership” of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau, including a $200,000 donation to the Trudeau Foundation, reported the Globe.

A day after the Globe and Mail story broke, the foundation announced it would return the donation, with then-CEO and president Pascale Fournier stating, “We cannot keep any donation that may have been sponsored by a foreign government and would not knowingly do so.”

Election Interference

In recent weeks, Conservative politicians have criticized the prime minister for appointing former governor general David Johnston on March 15 as special rapporteur on allegations of foreign election interference by Beijing. Johnston was a member of the Trudeau Foundation at the time but resigned after his appointment.
“It is Justin Trudeau that has put Mr. Johnston in this terrible situation: by naming a member of the China-financed Trudeau Foundation to perform this role,” Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre said during a press conference on March 17.
Shortly after the Trudeau Foundation resignations were announced, Poilievre said there needed to be an investigation of the foundation.

“We need to know who got rich; who got paid and who got privilege and power from Justin Trudeau as a result of funding to the Trudeau Foundation,” he said on Twitter on April 11.

During a press conference in Sarnia, Ont., the same day, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said both the Liberals and the Conservatives have been using allegations of foreign election interference to “score points” on each other.

“There are serious concerns around foreign interference that need to be taken seriously. But my goal is to make things better, not to score points, or to point at this party or that party,” Singh said.

“What we’ve seen from the Liberals and Conservatives is they are more concerned with scoring political points and pointing fingers at each other, and when it comes to something as serious as our democracy, our priority should be to safeguard democracy.”