Justin Trudeau to 'make it right' with charities that paid him to fundraise
Published Sunday, June 16, 2013 11:53AM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, June 16, 2013 4:07PM EDT
Liberal leader Justin Trudeau says he is willing to make amends with any charitable organizations that have paid him to speak and felt they did not get their money’s worth.
“I am going to sit down with every single one of them and make this right,” Trudeau told CTV’s Question Period Sunday, addressing an issue first raised in reports about his work with The Grace Foundation, which supports a seniors’ home.
The New Brunswick charity said they paid Trudeau $20,000 to speak at June 2012 event that aimed to raise $300,000 but ended up losing money instead.
Late last week, Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall called on Trudeau to pay back another $20,000 fee the Liberal leader collected for speaking at a literacy conference in Saskatoon. The organization was left with a surplus of just $7,000.
In his comments Sunday, Trudeau said he wants to maintain the high level of transparency that Canadians expect of him.
“I’m willing to pay all the money back, if that’s what it comes to,” Trudeau said during an interview with CTV’s Question Period.
Conservative MP Rob Moore – whose New Brunswick riding includes The Grace Foundation – said in a statement that Trudeau ignored requests from the foundation for repayment for months, and doubts the sincerity of his response.
“I have always believed that Justin Trudeau's practice of charging tens of thousands of dollars to charities, churches and seniors groups was not right and went against the understood practice of our duties as Members of Parliament,” Moore said.
Trudeau also clarified that the speaking appearances were made in his capacity as an activist, and not as a parliamentarian.
“It was always entirely separate. I never spoke as an MP, and always as an environmental educational advocate,” Trudeau said, noting that he never used the House of Commons travel fund to get to speaking engagements..
“I choose to raise the bar way for transparency and openness way beyond what is expected by any sort of rules or expectations of a leadership candidate or even of a minister,” he added.
“I am going to meet the high bar that Canadians expect of their leaders.”
Trudeau has openly stated that he earned $1.3 million for public speaking engagements between 2006 and 2009. He revealed details of his personal fortune during his campaign for the Liberal leadership earlier this year. At the time, he said he stopped accepting paid speaking engagements when he launched his leadership campaign.
With files from The Canadian Press