PM Trudeau's fundraising 'smells fishy': Ambrose
Published Saturday, December 10, 2016 7:15AM EST
OTTAWA -- Liberal fundraising events advertising access to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and members of his cabinet are unethical and raise questions, interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose says.
"It smells fishy and these guys know it," Ambrose said in an interview with Evan Solomon, host of CTV's Question Period.
"It is against the law for the prime minister and ministers to meet with people and take money from people who are seeking something from the government."
Media reports have revealed a series of events featuring appearances by Trudeau and high-profile MPs including Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould and Finance Minister Bill Morneau, that raise money for the Liberal Party by charging up to $1,500 for tickets.
One Toronto fundraiser reportedly connected Chinese billionaires with Trudeau, after which one of the guests and another man donated $1 million to the Trudeau Foundation and the University of Montreal. Of that, $50,000 is intended to build a statue of Trudeau's father, former prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau. Another man who attended the event was awaiting approval for his bank to operate in Canada.
Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson has called the fundraisers "unsavoury," but said the law doesn't allow her to act on these fundraisers. She has called on Parliament to give her office a broader scope. Ambrose says she's written to Dawson and to Lobbying Commissioner Karen Shepherd because new information has surfaced since they were last asked to probe the events.1.3174401
"This goes to the heart of the integrity of the Prime Minister's Office," Ambrose said.
"I think he's already tainted the office of the prime minister... I think they've done damage already."
The Liberals say the fundraisers aren't cash-for-access events because they'll speak with any Canadian and access isn't limited to those who can afford to donate to the party. Morneau, in particular, has referred to his budget consultations across the country.
"We know that's not true because the people that are lobbying have been very forthright with facts," she said, pointing to statements in the media by some of the donors that they have business they wanted to discuss with the government.
Trudeau and his cabinet ministers have hewn to a similar response each time they're questioned about the fundraisers.
"At the federal level we have among the strongest principles and rules around fundraising in the country," Trudeau said in the House of Commons on Wednesday.
"Those rules are always followed. This is important because Canadians need to have confidence in the transparency, accountability, and secureness of our political financing system. Canadians can and must be reassured."
Watch the full interview Sunday on CTV's Question Period at 11 a.m. ET, 10 a.m. CT, 9 a.m. MT and 8 a.m. PT