A Little ‘For The Record’ Stuff For You
A Brief Foreword Note from Doug Draper
Posted November 27h, 2016 on Niagara At Large
This past Tuesday, November 22nd, The Globe & Mail ran an investigative story on its front page that has continued to fuel a firestorm of debate over whether or not he breached principles aimed at keeping big money out of who gets access to our elected leaders and what they get for that access.
“Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was the top draw at a $1,500 Liberal Party cash-for-access fundraiser at the mansion of a wealthy Chinese-Canadian business executive in May,” reads the first line of the Globe story. “Chinese Business Chamber of Commerce chair Benson Wong played host to Mr. Trudeau and 32 other people at his Toronto home.
Later on the day the Globe story was published, federal Tory interim leader Rona Ambrose confronted Trudeau during Question Period in the House of Commons about the fundraiser with this home full of billionaires.
In his defence, Trudeau mentioned the recent news that General Electric is bringing about 150 jobs to Welland in the Niagara Region as an example of how meetings with wealthy groups about possibly making investments in Canada could mean more good news stories like that for the country.
Still the Globe story leaves Trudeau and his government facing criticism and serious concerns over billionaires and millionaires buying access most of the rest of us can only dream of to our political leaders, and what that access gets them in return.
Here, for the record, is some of the exchange this past November 22nd between Ambrose and Trudeau on this issue –
Again, Mr. Speaker, I would like to welcome the Prime Minister to the House.
We all know that the Prime Minister would rather hang out with billionaires than answer questions in Parliament. When he is not mingling with them in Sun Valley or Davos, he is hitting them up for Liberal Party donations back home. In May, in fact, Chinese billionaires paid $1,500 for exclusive access to the Prime Minister at a Toronto mansion.
Rubbing elbows with millionaires at these cash for access events does not pass the smell test, and the Prime Minister knows it. Why does he keep doing it?
Mr. Speaker, Canadians faced a period of 10 years of lower than needed growth under the previous government. That is why we have committed to engaging positively with the world to draw in investment. I am pleased with the representations we have made in Davos and elsewhere to demonstrate that Canada is a good place to invest.
When we talk about investments like Bell Helicopter in Mirabel with 1,000 more jobs, or the GM research in Markham, or the GE plant down in Niagara Region, we know that drawing in global investment is a great way to grow the economy and create jobs.
Mr. Speaker, it is not a coincidence that these billionaires the Prime Minister meets with actually want something from him. One of the guests at the mansion in May wanted government approval for a new bank in Canada—so, an individual pays $1,500 for exclusive access to the Prime Minister and that individual will get final approval for a bank a few months later.
Not only does this event break the Prime Minister’s own ethics rules, but it does not pass the smell test. He could stop this right away. Why does he not?
Mr. Speaker, Canadians can be reassured that the federal level has some of the toughest rules and laws around political fundraising of any level of government in this country. Indeed, we have always followed those rules and the principles that underlie them.
We also find it peculiar that the opposition members are trying to politicize that particular issue since it was their finance minister who approved that bank before they were booted out of office.
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