Trudeau Foundation Says It’s Launching Independent Review of Chinese Donation

Trudeau Foundation Says It’s Launching Independent Review of Chinese Donation
The Chinese Embassy in Ottawa in a file photo. (The Canadian Press/Sean Kilpatrick)
Noé Chartier

The Pierre Elliot Trudeau Foundation says it is launching an independent review of the donation it received from a Chinese regime insider in 2016.

The foundation announced the move in an April 12 statement a few hours after La Presse reported that the donation had not been returned as previously claimed, leading to an internal crisis and the resignation of the leadership team.

“Following a unanimous consensus reached by the Board prior to its dissolution, the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation is launching an independent review of its acceptance of the donation with a potential connection to the Chinese government,” says the statement sent to The Epoch Times and attributed to Edward Johnson, chair of the board.

The statement adds that the review will be conducted by an accounting firm, itself instructed by a law firm. The foundation says it has never had previous dealings with either unspecified firms.

The controversy relates to a Globe and Mail article published on Feb. 28 saying that according to a national security source, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service had uncovered a 2014 plan by Beijing to make a $1 million donation to the Trudeau Foundation through Chinese businessman and regime insider Zhang Bin.

The Liberals under leader Justin Trudeau, son of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau, won the federal election the next year, in October 2015.

About seven months later, the Trudeau Foundation and the Université de Montréal, Pierre Trudeau’s alma mater, announced that Zhang and another wealthy Chinese businessman would donate $1 million in honour of the former prime minister, according to the Globe. Of that total, $200,000 went to the foundation.

The statement from Johnson says the amount was actually two payments of $70,000.

“A reimbursement cheque was issued in the name of the donor which made those payments and to which CRA charitable receipts were issued,” the statement said.

This information contradicts what La Presse had reported based on unidentified directors of the foundation who had just resigned, as well as an internal document the media outlet had obtained.

The document reportedly said the foundation could not reimburse the donor since the name on the cheque wasn’t the name of the real donor.

A source told La Presse this led some board members to request an investigation, with the recusal of directors who were with the foundation when the donation was received. However, those directors reportedly refused to recuse themselves.

The Epoch Times contacted the Trudeau Foundation to seek clarification on the discrepancies but didn’t immediately hear back.

The foundation’s statement said the current interim board would not be granting interviews in the coming days.

On March 1, a day after the Globe published its report on Zhang Bin, the foundation had announced it was returning the donation.
Sources told La Presse that internal turmoil over the issue eventually led to the leadership of the foundation resigning on April 11.

The foundation said the resignation was due to the “political climate” surrounding the donation.

“The circumstances created by the politicization of the foundation have made it impossible to continue with the status quo,” it said in a statement.