Updated: Trudeau to compensate charities that paid him to help raise money - Macleans.ca

Updated: Trudeau to compensate charities that paid him to help raise money


OTTAWA – Justin Trudeau is promising to compensate all groups that paid him hefty speaking fees to participate in fundraising events since he became an MP.

The Liberal leader said Sunday he’ll either give back the fees or find some other way to “make it right.”

He could, for instance, give charitable groups donations equivalent to the fees charged or agree to appear at future fundraisers for them — for free this time.

“I’m willing to pay all of the money back, if that’s what it comes to,” Trudeau told CTV’s Question Period. “But I am going to fix this.”

Trudeau has been under fire since Friday, when it emerged that he’d refused to reimburse the Grace Foundation, a New Brunswick charity that lost money after paying him $20,000 to speak at a fundraising event in June 2012.

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall piled on, demanding that Trudeau repay the $20,000 fee he charged for speaking at a Saskatoon literacy conference last year.

But the issue has been haunting Trudeau more generally since he voluntarily disclosed all his sources of income — including a $1.2 million inheritance from his father, former prime minister Pierre Trudeau — during the Liberal leadership race.

He revealed that he’d earned more than $1.3 million on the public speaking circuit, including $277,000 in the four years after winning election as an MP in 2008. He said he stopped accepting speaking fees once he began seriously contemplating a leadership bid in the spring of 2012.

Some of the groups from which he accepted speaking fees were charitable or non-profit organizations, including universities, school boards, hospital and health care organizations.

Trudeau stressed Sunday that all his speaking engagements were cleared by the federal ethics commissioner, that he never used any parliamentary resources to get to the events and that none of the money he earned went to finance his leadership bid, as Wall has charged.

“I’m doing this not because I’m worried that I did something wrong, because I didn’t. Everything was done exactly according to the rules.”

Still, he acknowledged there’s been a public backlash to the voluntary disclosure of his personal finances, which he argued “raised the bar” for transparency and openness “way beyond” what’s required even for cabinet ministers.

“For me, transparency isn’t a slogan or a tactic; it’s a way of doing business. I trust Canadians. I value their opinions. And now that I’ve heard them, I’m going to act,” he said in a written statement.

Trudeau said he’ll talk to each of the groups from which he accepted a fee since becoming an MP and find a way to “fix this and make it right.”

On CTV, Trudeau noted that Sunday was Father’s Day. He appeared to choke up as he said his late father taught him about the value of public service and would want him to “live up to Canadians’ expectations.”

He also said he’s proud of the work he’s done as a professional public speaker and dismissed a suggestion he was simply making money off his celebrity name.

“One speaking event you can make off of celebrity. The kinds of requests for me that kept coming in … the past five years were based on the fact I’m pretty good speaker. I’m actually a very good speaker.”

Not good enough, apparently, to help the Grace Foundation, which hired Trudeau for an event in June 2012 to raise money for furniture for a seniors’ home. Foundation board member Susan Buck wrote Trudeau in March to say the event had been “a huge disappointment and financial loss” and to request that he reimburse his fee.

The letter was circulated by Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s office on Friday.

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Updated: Trudeau to compensate charities that paid him to help raise money

  1. What will the Justin Turdeau apologists say now?

    “Just an Airhead” has been shamed into doing the right thing, but the damage is done, self inflicted by his own foot in mouth.

    • I truly believe both Justin Trudeau and his followers are bewildered that people could find fault in his accepting money from charities when so many others who aren’t as well as off as he is are inclined to “give” to charity both through hours of volunteerism and through money donations. He and his supporters see it as Justin’s right to earn a buck even if it is on the backs of some of the poorest and most disadvantaged in our country. They don’t get it that many people will be less inclined to be handing out their own hard-earned dollars or devoting hours to charities when they find out those same charities are handing out $20K to Justin for 10 minutes work.
      I don’t believe Justin Trudeau was “shamed into doing the right thing”. I think an adviser told him that his quest to be PM would be threatened if he didn’t promise to do something to stem the bad feelings of many ordinary Canadians. Given his actions, how could we not help but see him as a disingenuous privileged person who can’t even be bothered to give 10 minutes of his time away for free while at the same time voicing his concern for the marginalized of our country. If he wanted to earn $400K a year as a speaker, he should have stayed a private citizen and reaped the benefits of his celebrity to his heart’s content.

      • You’re probably right, Justin privately would think that he is still “entitled” to the money from these charities.

        Like I said though, the damage is already done, the young dauphin is the gift that keeps on giving when it comes to fodder for election ads.

        I predict the LPoC (aka “natural ruling party”) losing more seats yet again in the next federal election.

      • I think what Tom Mulcair said is totally right as opposition leaders and MPS earning six figure salaries both men should consider giving speeches as part of their job descriptions and not charge a fee. In this little story Mulcair for once looks like the sensible father where as Trudeau looks like the spoiled rich child digging his greedy little paws into the cookie jar.

      • You’re forgetting that these charities approached him through a legitmate booking agency, and some of them made money. ( I’d like to know how many like Grace didn’t) But as I agreed with you on the other blog there’s no doubt this made him look greedy. And politics is as much about perception as anything else. There’s even the possibility that Grace lost money because it did a poor job of selling the event. Although no one will dare to say so… that would be too politically incorrect.
        I just find it funny you guys are simply swollowing the line that somehow this is a unique situation for JT. ( BB’s just a troll so i dont include him) Moonlighting is permitted among all non executive MPs. It’s hard to believe plenty of others haven’t missed time in the House because they were taking care of business. Doesn’t make it right for Trudeau of course, hes had a habit of missing too much house stuff; but it is pretty typical political hypocrisy from the Tory side in particular. Although it wouldn’t surprise me to hear of plenty of NDP moonlighting as well.
        Change the rules if need be, if thats what the public wants, but don’t make a special rule for Trudeau.
        That said he’s doing the smart thing to fix this.

        • Out of all the MPs in Ottawa only three including Trudeau charge a speaking fee is that the unique situation you are talking about.

        • “You’re forgetting that these charities approached him through a legitmate booking agency, and some of them made money”

          You actually raised an interesting point there swab, did the charities approach the booking agency or did the booking agency approach the charities?

          Just how aggressive has this booking agency been in finding work for JT?

          And who are the principles of this agency and do they have connections to the LPoC?

          • Well, some of the principles of the agency do have substantial connection to the LPoC, suprised?


        • I frankly do not care what the Tories say about it. For me this isn’t an issue of finger pointing of who is the worse offender in the House in terms of bad behavior. Obviously, there is PLENTY of bad behavior to go around.
          I understand that a person might need/want to make a certain living. However, I feel that should you need or want a living that is not offered by public service, you really should reflect seriously about your career choices and MAYBE a career in the public service isn’t the job for you. If Justin Trudeau needs/wants to make $400K a year, do not change jobs from a speaker to a MP who then needs to moonlight during work hours at charitable events to makeup for the money he is no longer making as a full-time speaker. Yes, I get IT, that Justin was asked to speak but I also get IT that Justin skipped out on his regular job to speak and then collected the money from the charity. If I skipped out on my regular job as a a nurse to give paid speeches for a pharmaceutical company, I would get FIRED from my public service job. The rules can’t be different for Justin but surely someone who wants to be the leader of country must understand that he has to have values that resonate with the citizens that he wants to represent. Canadians are a generous people. You only have to see the amount of money they donate when there are crisis like the earthquake in Haiti. Of course some of us have a hard time understanding why our PM in waiting wouldn’t feel the same way we do about being generous to the underprivileged in our society.

  2. Good on him for making it right my question would have Marc Garneau done something like this.

    • Honest question for you. If Garneau was asked to speak at these events ( and remember most of these events will try to raise some funds on the celebrity status of MPs like Garneau, Dryden or Trudeau) should he do it for free? Is that actually a part of his job? Should it be? I have some difficulty with this idea mps like these 3 guys are obliged to speak for free, just because they’re celebrities. OTOH I agree it doesn’t look good to be charging a charity 20000 bucks… ever. It is disappointing even for someone who likes Trudeau, such as myself, to see how slow he was to realize this without being shamed into it.

      • The average MP makes about $175,000 a year all funded by the taxpayers some of the places they speak are funded by taxpayers plus add on another $20,000 speaking fee a little excessive. Secondly I am sure both Dryden and Garneau could make a very good living as professional speakers but it was their choice to run for office. As the old saying goes you cannot serve two masters.

      • Just remember that Olympic athletes in Canada often speak for free or donate their speaking fees to charity. Why do you have such difficulty with the idea that these MPs who are wealthy in their own right would do that when athletes who are quite poor do?

  3. OTTAWA – Justin Trudeau is one of just
    three MPs – all of them Liberals – to report extra income from speaking
    engagements in the last five years.

    And, in Trudeau’s case, it appears he missed debates, votes and
    possibly one of his party’s caucus meetings so he could earn tens of
    thousands on the speaking circuit.

    Trudeau, speaking to supporters in Bracebrige, Ont., Friday, declined to provide any more details about the issue.

    But in documents he provided to the Ottawa Citizen, he said he had
    been paid $277,000 for 17 speaking engagements since becoming an MP in
    the 2008 general election.

    A QMI agency examination of those engagements founds that nine events
    for which he earned $147,000 were held on days the House of Commons was

    Hansard, the official record of House of Common proceedings shows no
    evidence Trudeau was in the House on the dates of those nine events.

    On April 20, 2012, for example, Trudeau earned $20,000 for a speech
    he gave to Literacy for Life in Saskatoon. In the House of Commons,
    other MPs were debating and voting on a pension reform initiative.

    On Jan. 31, 2009, MPs debated and voted on changes to employment
    insurance benefits. There is no record Trudeau voted on that initiative
    or participated in the day’s proceedings. But he did give a speech that
    day to the Toronto-based group, The Learning Partnership, for which he
    was paid $10,000.

    • And how many missed time in the house because they had other moonlighting engagements? I won’t hold my breath waiting for you to get back to me on that!

      • Be my guest, go and try to dig something up, you won’t find anything except the three Liberals.

  4. I’m glad Trudeau decided to be magnanimous about this issue. He did nothing wrong accepting the occasional speaking engagement (about 4 a year since becoming an MP, which he cleared with the Ethics Commissioner beforehand.) He didn’t fraudulently claim travel expenses. He had no obligation to return money to a charity that bungled the fundraising event he was paid to speak at.

    I find the Conservatives have been complete hypocrites on this issue. Their claim he made enough money as an MP is utterly ridiculous. These are free-market true-believers who think its perfectly acceptable for a CEO to make hundreds of millions running his company into the ground. I think it would be far fetched to imagine a Conservative offering a refund on a business deal that wasn’t successful out of the kindness of his heart.

    BTW, one should check out the finances of The Church of St. John and St. Stephen nursing home the Grace Foundation is connected to. They made $5.8M in revenues in 2012, $4M from the government. Although they have over 120 in staff, $3.3M goes to management and administration. You’d think if they needed $200,000 for furniture and other upgrades, they wouldn’t need a charity to raise the money.


    • A QMI agency examination of those engagements founds that nine events
      for which he earned $147,000 were held on days the House of Commons was

      Hansard, the official record of House of Common proceedings shows no
      evidence Trudeau was in the House on the dates of those nine events.

  5. The nice thing about this is that all the Conservative MP’s will now do the same and return all speaking fees and speak at charity fundraisers for free from now on. Either that or they’ll look like complete two faced jerks to all Canadians.

    • Only three MPs charge a speaking fee, all Liberals

      • Are you saying that nobody is willing to pay to hear a Conservative speak? All that money raised a Conservative fundraisers must go to pay the food and room rent.

        • No as Tom Mulcair said last week most MPs consider making speeches a part of their job description and do not charge a fee.

  6. This guy is amazing with BS now he is telling us it is his transparencr we are reacting to. He still doesn’t get it. It is greedy little fingers getting in poor people’s piggy banks. And he thinks he can persade us to follow him if he just gets another chance to look us in the eye and spurt out more How great I am Justin Trudeau. please someone put a plug in his mouth.