Nothing to see here, folks! Move along!
Last May, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attended an exclusive $1,500 Liberal Party fundraiser at the home of a wealthy businessman where Trudeau rubbed elbows with Chinese billionaires.
Also on the guest list at the private fundraising dinner were senior Chinese state officials and a business executive who is currently seeking approval for a new bank from Canadian regulators.
In addition to their generous donations to the Liberal Party of Canada, two wealthy dinner guests donated $1 million to the Pierre Elliot Trudeau Foundation – including funds to erect a statue honouring Justin Trudeau's father.
The guidelines, released in November 2015, explicitly state ministers "must ensure that political fundraising activities or considerations do not affect, or appear to affect, the exercise of their official duties or the access of individuals or organizations to government."
1. Liberal fundraising dinners are in Canada's national interests?
Asked directly about the secret Liberal Party fundraiser in the House of Commons this week, Trudeau suggested his efforts are helping attract Chinese investment to Canada.
Trudeau spoke of how important it is to "grow the economy and create jobs" by "drawing in global investment."
In fact, Trudeau said his activities showed him "engaging positively with the world":
"Canadians faced a period of 10 years of lower-than-needed growth under the previous government. That is why we have committed, engaging positively with the world to draw in investment. We know that drawing in global investment is a great way to grow the economy and create jobs."
So making a donation to the Liberal Party of Canada and helping erect a statue of the Prime Minister's father is good for the economy?
2. The wealthy businessman was merely a "volunteer"?
Didn't buy the last excuse?
How about this excuse floated by one Liberal Party spokesperson:
"As one would expect, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau meets with thousands of people each month, at a wide variety of events and meetings all across Canada. Mr. Trudeau attended a fundraising event on May 19 of this year in the private residence of a volunteer."
To be clear, this "volunteer" is a wealthy business executive who, as coincidence would have it, invited an insurance tycoon who is currently awaiting final approval from federal regulators to open up a domestic bank in Canada.
3. Hey guys! What are you doing here?
Speaking of coincidences, according to Toronto Star columnist Paul Wells, the Liberals circulated a letter internally last week suggesting that fundraising event attendees are a complete surprise to cabinet ministers before they show up at the event:
"I got sent a letter from the party that a senior official in the party sent to cabinet ministers a couple weeks ago in which she reminded them that their offices don't even know who's going to be at these events when they show up."
In practical terms, here's Wells' takeaway:
"There's a big house in Toronto that was full of big money Liberal donors. It was also full of Chinese nationals who had business with the government. And then at some point Justin Trudeau showed up and we are asked to believe that there's no causal link among those three facts. It was just the damnedest thing ... We're asked to believe that Justin Trudeau, who represents a riding in Montreal, who resides in Ottawa, wandered into a house in Toronto and was astonished to discover that there's a Chinese businessman and party donors ... 'Hey guys, what are you doing here?'"
Photo: Shenglin Financial.