A trade union in Ontario broke Canada Election Act rules when it paid some of its members $100 each to stand behind Justin Trudeau during a Liberal Party election campaign event last year, according to a notice from the Commissioner of Canada Elections.

On Sept. 15, Trudeau made a campaign stop in Waterloo, Ont., to announce that the Liberal Party would invest $750 million in skilled trades training. Unbeknownst to the party, the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry of the United States and Canada, Local 527, paid 23 of its members $100 each to attend and stand behind Trudeau during his announcement.

By paying its members to attend the event, the union made a “non-monetary” contribution of $2,300 to the Liberal Party, the commissioner said.

Subsection 363(1) of the Canada Election Act prohibits “any person or entity other than an individual who is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada from making a contribution within the meaning of the Act.”

As a result, Local 527 has entered into a “compliance agreement” with the commissioner not to break the Election Act rules again. And, even though the Liberal Party was unaware of the union’s actions, the commissioner said it has since paid $2,300 to the receiver general.

The commissioner said that signing the compliance agreement “does not constitute a guilty plea in the criminal sense, and no record of conviction will be created as a result of (the union’s) admission of responsibility for acts that could constitute an offence under the Act.”

The commissioner added that the union co-operated “fully and in good faith” with his investigation.

Responding to comments about the incident from Conservative MP John Barlow during the House of Commons daily question period on Thursday, Government House Leader Dominic LeBlanc called it an “accident.”

“Let’s be very clear: At the very moment that this was brought to our attention, the party followed the law, reimbursed the receiver general and the appropriate union signed a compliance agreement with the commissioner,” LeBlanc said.