Ethics watchdog to question Justin Trudeau on 'concerns' about fundraising events
December 15, 2016
Canada's ethics watchdog wants to question Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about his attendance at so-called "cash-for-access" fundraising events, but she will not launch a formal investigation at this time.
In a letter responding to requests for an inquiry from the Conservatives and the NDP, Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson said there is no evidence to date that demonstrates Trudeau or Bill Blair, parliamentary secretary to the minister of Justice, violated the Conflict of Interest Act.
"While the information provided in support of the allegations is not sufficient to cause me to initiate an examination under the act at this time, your letter and media articles leave me with concerns in relation to Mr. Trudeau's interactions with individuals involved with the canola export agreement, Wealth One Bank, and Anbang Insurance Group," Dawson wrote to interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose.
"Consequently, I will follow up with Mr. Trudeau regarding his involvement with the fundraising events and with the three above-noted matters. I will inform you of the outcome in due course."
Dawson was referring to events cited by the opposition parties and reported by the Globe and Mail and other media that took place in Vancouver and Toronto.
Those reports raised questions about various interactions between Trudeau and attendees, including Toronto businessman Thomas Liu, who has financial interest in canola exports to China, Shengling Xian, founder of Wealth One Bank of Canada, and Miaofei Pan, who told the Globe he spoke with Trudeau about foreign investment issues that could affect the Anbang Insurance Group.
No 'reasonable grounds'
Dawson also responded to a concern raised related to a fundraising event attended by Blair, who is the government's point man on legalization of marijuana. That event was also attended by people involved with the Cannabis Friendly Business Association.
But Dawson wrote that in order to establish "reasonable grounds" that Trudeau or Blair contravened the act, she would need information that indicates they "personally solicited" funds that would have placed them in a conflict of interest.
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