The Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation, a controversial organization, will soon be subjected to a federal audit to determine the appropriateness of using taxpayer funds to purchase stocks in China. The decision to investigate the Foundation was made by the Commons public accounts committee on September 21, with a unanimous 10-0 vote. The audit was ordered in response to concerns raised about the use of a taxpayers’ endowment to support the Foundation.
Back in 2002, then-Prime Minister Jean Chretien awarded $125 million to the Foundation, despite facing criticism from Opposition MPs regarding the funding. The endowment was intended to establish a fitting legacy for Pierre Elliott Trudeau, who symbolized youth, excellence, and the innovative spirit. However, it was noted at the time that the Foundation would not be subject to the usual regulations and scrutiny outlined in the Access to Information Act.
Fast forward to 2021, and it was revealed that the Foundation had undisclosed investments in Chinese stocks. During a June 8 hearing, Foundation chair Edward Johnson confirmed that they held shares in Tencent Holdings Limited, a video game maker, and software company Baidu.com. These revelations sparked intense scrutiny, especially after it was discovered that the Foundation had accepted a $140,000 gift from a donor with ties to Beijing. As a result, the CEO resigned from the board on April 10.
Bloc Québécois MP Nathalie Sinclair-Desgagné sponsored a motion to pursue an audit, arguing that the endowment had certain criteria that needed to be respected. She emphasized the unusual nature of a foundation like Trudeau’s receiving public funds, stating that this imposed additional responsibilities and obligations. This unanimously supported motion calls for the Auditor General to examine the original agreement between the Foundation and the Government of Canada.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has consistently stated that he has had no involvement with the Foundation since becoming prime minister. Although his brother, Alexandre Trudeau, remains an executive director and personally met with one Chinese donor. Trudeau denounced the attacks against charities or foundations, calling them unfounded and politically motivated attempts to increase polarization and partisanship in the country.
The federal audit will investigate the Foundation’s compliance with its obligations under the agreement with the government. It aims to shed light on the use of taxpayer funds to purchase stocks in China and ensure that the Foundation is fulfilling its responsibilities. The outcome of the audit will determine whether any further action needs to be taken regarding the Foundation’s financial practices and management.
In conclusion, the federal audit of the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation aims to address concerns about the use of taxpayer funds to purchase stocks in China. The audit was prompted by revelations of undisclosed investments in Chinese stocks and a controversial donation from a donor with ties to Beijing. The investigation will examine the Foundation’s compliance with its obligations under the agreement with the government. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has distanced himself from the Foundation but has emphasized the importance of upholding the integrity of charitable organizations. The audit will provide clarity on the Foundation’s financial practices and management and determine if any corrective measures are necessary.