Justin Trudeau and unions - Macleans.ca

Justin Trudeau and unions


Should a political leader accept thousands of dollars from an interest group and then take positions on policy issues that defend the interests of that group?

That’s the question put to me by Terrance Oakey, the president of Merit Canada, which advocates for “open shop” construction associations (and therefore, against closed union workplaces).  Oakey is concerned that Liberal leader Justin Trudeau lists several labour unions among the organizations to which he’s sold his services as a public speaker, as revealed on the list of clients Trudeau has voluntarily made public. And he’s especially concerned that Trudeau has promised the Liberals will continue to fight Bill C-377, which the House passed in December and which would force unions to make details of their financing and spending public. 

That looks like a pretty strong quid pro quo. Oakey’s an interested party in the matter, and a Conservative of long standing, but I think the questions he asks are fair. Here’s an abridged version of the argument he put to me:

Between 2006 and 2010, Justin Trudeau collected $112,500 from various unions for speaking fees. As a political candidate, it would have been illegal for unions to donate any money to him under federal electoral laws.

Trudeau has promised that Liberal Senators will work “hard to try and slow down, block, impede” Bill C-377 and he has promised to repeal it if it becomes law, should he become Prime Minister. At the same time, Trudeau is promising to increase transparency, yet is fighting a bill that would actually have seen unions have to disclose the $112,500 they paid him for his speeches.


Trudeau on getting Liberal Senators to delay/fight C-377 and promising to repeal it if it passes:

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau says if the bill becomes law, he’d repeal it as prime minister.
“I haven’t given up hope, however, that the Liberal senators who are doing good work are working hard to try and slow down, block, impede or make less damaging this particular bill,” Trudeau said Thursday after speaking to a carpenters’ union in Toronto. ( May 31, 2013)

Time for audience questions! First one is about Bill C-377, the Tories’ “union transparency” bill. “When you become Prime Minister of Canada, will you repeal this bill?” Trudeau says he will. ( May 30, 2013)

Trudeau speaking fees from unions:

From the official list Trudeau’s campaign gave to reporter Glen McGregor – $87,500

May 3, 2006 – Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario. $10,000

November 17, 2006 – Alberta Teachers’ Association. $7,500

March 15, 2007 – Alberta Teachers’ Association. $10,000<

May 4, 2007 – New Brunswick Teachers’ Association. $10,000

October 24, 2007 – Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation. $10,000

February 4, 2008 – Canadian Association of Food Service Professionals. $10,000

February 9, 2008 – Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association. $10,000

March 5, 2010 – Ontario Public Service Employees’ Union. $20,000

Other events have been identified as actually being paid by unions, though they were identified incorrectly as paid by school boards in the list given to McGregor, which the boards have confirmed were paid by unions, that brings it up to $112,500:

These were the two events:

November 6, 2009 – Waterloo Catholic District School Board. $15,000
February 9, 2007 – Ottawa Carlton District School Board. $10,000


Me again. Wells. First, it’s worth noting that at no point does Oakey suggest Trudeau contravened current party-funding laws or did anything that wasn’t stricktly legal. Second, of the 10 events he lists, only two took place after Trudeau became an MP. Finally, I think it’s possible to believe that there is no direct causal link between the speaking fees Trudeau pocketed and his position on C-377. A handful of Conservative MPs voted against the bill on grounds of privacy and free association, as did all New Democratic MPs. They did it for free, as far as anyone knows. But it would be fair for voters to associate the money Trudeau made with the political position he took. And while Liberals may not like the association, they’d better be prepared to face such questions when an eventual campaign rolls around.


Justin Trudeau and unions

  1. Totally agree with your assessment. Given the content of his speeches even moreso do I agree that his position on policy and these engagements have little to do with each other. BUT…as lacking as I think the CPC are in governance, ethics and policy, they are masters of politicking in that they can take what is perfectly innocent and turn the association into something of a deal when they want to….the Liberals need to be concerned, not about what they have done…but what the CPC will imply they have done.

    • The conten of the speech is irrelevent.
      Unions bought a politician, that’s what matters.

  2. I don’t follow how a speaking fee somehow equates a political donation. In the case of the latter, it would be reasonable to infer that the recipient is beholden to the donor. In the case of a speaking fee however, how does that suggest that the recipient can’t be impartial here?

    • I think that what he is getting at…of course the recipient of the fee can be impartial….but the Conservatives won’t frame it that way (or I misunderstood the blog post…..)

      • Yes. That’s how the Cons will frame it but how does anyone with an ounce of sense not see this for what it is?

        • …people are disengaged these days, they hear fleeting bits, bumper sticker slogans that pose as policy. Who would have thought that half the country would believe that Igantieff didn’t hold Canadian citizenship? That poltical apathy is what the Conservatives have been feeding and counting on for the vote and it’s such tactics that do the trick.

          • Are you sure about that? My issue with the Ottawa intelligentsia is that they often make the mistake of assuming that the general public is stupid. Political apathy is not the reason why Harper’s been in power this long. A divided Left is the culprit. The theory above only works when the press legitimizes it. We are actually debating whether a speaking fee can be viewed as a political contribution. Nuff said.

          • No, it’s poltical apathy and a growing disinterest and lack of knowledge about politics and policy….as evidence see the declining voter turn-out rates for all levels of government. The left isn’t divided, the NDP have been around for a long time and it never stopped the Liberals from getting a majority. We have had a myriad of parties come and go over the years and it’s never posed a systemic problem for the left…or the right. Remember, it’s not about what is true…only what people perceive to be true. Harper is great at getting the vote out to his base….and demoralizing everyone else, if I had a nickel for everyone I met in 2011 who simply did not vote….Harper and Layton didn’t beat Ignatieff, they got our their base vote better….Liberals stayed home becuase frankly they disengaged (thanks to a MACHINE of a Harper smear campaign, some robocalls and to a small degree an NDP attack as well)

          • We’ll have to agree to disagree. Chretien stayed in power for as long as he did because the Right was splintered. Harper’s party never managed to sustain voter support beyond the 30 some percent. He doesn’t need to as long as the anti-Harper votes splits itself between the remaining three (and that’s if the Bloc doesn’t make a comeback in Quebec).

            The math on this does not lie. The only way for any of the opposing party to replace the CPC is if part of the CPC voting block defects of stays home. Otherwise, they will stay in power for a long time.

          • The right was never really splintered, the right had a ideological shift they had to contend and grow with and they didn’t….I assert that had the PCs held it together and concerned themselves more with their party and what went wrong and accepted what the Liberals are doing now (that they need to rebuild and revitalize), they would still be around as would the Reform or Alliance. BUT the PCs were a bit more concerned with power and getting it again and accepted the ‘merger’. Interesting that it all seems to be unravelling now….the PCs and the Reformers are not quite that blinded by the ‘glory’ of power now and there are some serious ideological rifts that are only going to grow. I assert that if the NDP and the Liberals EVER merge for short term gain, they will do themselves long term damage….priciples do count in the long run and ceedeing them for power is a short term solution. Honestly look at the history before 1985, we have had several different parties in the House and for the most part government was ruled in a majority….no reason it won’t happen again no matter how many parties are represented in the House.

          • Sorry Guesty. The only thing that I will agree on is that the NDP and the Libs shouldn’t merge. That would be a disaster for all involved. But others have offered solutions for this. Dion and May provided the model for it in that by-election out East. Those of us who want to see Harper taken out before he can do further damage to Canada don’t want to wait for your utopia. God forbid that Harper resign and Jason Kenney win the leadership or something…

            Mulcair and Trudeau need to get over themselves and do what is in the best interest of this country.

          • See, I disagree. I don’t mind a little courtesy (remember the unwritten rule in Dion and May’s case was that if a leader doesn’t have a seat, they do them a solid by not running anyone against them) BUT institutionalizing a ‘partnership’ like that would make mockery of the system and make the NDP and the Libs just as bad as the Conservatives….that’s no way to win and it’s no way to win for the long haul. Either party can beat Harper, not by playing his game his way though….Justin has the right idea, Mulcair needs to get it through his head a bit though (the NDP seem to me to be modelling the Conservatives smear tactics a bit)

          • A mockery of the system? Yes. The CPC can rest easy indeed…smh

          • Guesty is right.

            ‘The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter’

            Winston Churchill

          • The general public *is* stupid. After all, the phrase is “ignorant masses” and not “ignorant few” for a reason.

            Again, I bring forward my own riding as example. In the 2011 election the NDP “ran”, and I use quotations because simply having a name on the ballot hardly counts as running, a paper candidate. And it must have been paper because if you tried to do a websearch to see who the candidate was for this riding, you were as likely to get the 2008 candidate.

            Against him ran the CPC candidate Obhrai, and the Liberal candidate Petrunic, the latter of which was very involved, intelligent, and working hard to get out there and convert people. So much so that the local papers, doing their signage count, actually figured this riding might be one of the few in Calgary that would be interesting to watch.

            The results of the election?

            CPC Obhrai: 23,372

            NDP Brown: 4378

            Liberal Petrunic: 4102

          • In the 2011 election the NDP “ran”, and I use quotations because simply
            having a name on the ballot hardly counts as running, a paper candidate.

            Really? Ask 58 NDP MPs from Quebec what they think about that. :)

          • Thwim, I feel your pain but that result is not evidence of the stupidity of voters.

          • Your logic is stunning.

            ..sorry.. stunted. The word I was looking for was stunted.

          • Coming from you that’s a serious compliment. Thank you

    • Why would they pay an inexperienced, celebrity ‘motivational’ speaker $20,000 for 30 minutes?
      Maybe this is why he was ‘forced’ to take the same fee from charities – so it wouldn’t look like unions were getting special treatment.
      Did the EC “clearance” sound something like – ‘as long as you don’t ONLY charge Unions and public school boards it -i.e. find some in stooge in the private sector..’?

  3. What is the right timeframe to consider? When Trudeau became an MP? Or when he became the nominated candidate for Papineau?

    My understanding is that political donation rules apply to nominated candidates, not just MPs. The day he won the Liberal nomination for Papineau is probably the right time to start the clock. Fully agree that anything before that day is out of bounds for further consideration.

    • But this wasn’t a political donation. Are we seriously entertaining this nonsense?

      • But that’s the point of this discussion isn’t it? Is the speaking fee actually a laundered political contribution from a union? And if that’s the question we are considering, you need to go back to when Trudeau was nominated; not elected, which was April 29, 2007, which would seem to now include 6 speaking engagements, not 2.

        • “Is the speaking fee actually a laundered political contribution from a union?”

          Is this a serious question?

          • Did you read this blog post? That’s the implication being made here. Or did you not understand the words “quid pro quo”?

            For the record, I am not accusing Trudeau of this. There is no information to suggest this is the case.

          • I read the blog post. My question to you is why would you (or anyone not part of the flailing spin machine) even entertain the question? Do you agree with the premise here? Because it is a ridiculous one. A speaking fee is not a political contribution, not even a laundered one. You can’t apply this reasoning without then suggesting that everyone else who has paid a speaking fee to a politician was also trying to do the same.

            It is a dumb argument.

          • I read the blog post. My question to you is why would you (or anyone not part of the flailing spin machine) even entertain the question?

            See my update above.

            Even though I don’t have reason to believe it at this time, it’s not a dumb argument. In case you haven’t noticed lately, politicians and union leaders the world over are not exactly shining beacons of integrity. It’s entirely possible that an unscrupulous union leader and an unscrupulous politician could concoct something like this to get around finance laws. I don’t think it happened here, but my days of just trusting anyone in politics, unions, or journalism are long over. As Reagan once said, trust but verify.

          • But you can’t verify this, john g. How would you do that?

            I stand corrected. For you to even entertain this shows that this strategy is not a stupid one after all. Talk about dummying down the debate… smh

          • The thing is, he’s right. There are those out there who will buy this spin – and so you can bet the CPC and their supporters will make themselves whirling dervishes trying to convince the half-awake voters that it might be true.

          • “For the record, I am not accusing Trudeau of this. There is no information to suggest this is the case.”

            You’re not accusing him but here you are suggesting that this is a valid argument. You might as well accuse him. If I’m Oakey, I’m smiling at my computer screen reading this and patting myself on the back. His work is done here.

          • Maybe your definition of “valid” differs from mine. But by all means, feel free to assume that Trudeau is perfectly ethical and squeaky clean, completely above reproach, and reject any attempt to question otherwise. I believed that about Harper years ago. Where did it get me?

          • Umm…I’m not making any such assumptions about Trudeau. I’m strictly talking about what I see as desperate/dumb spin. A speaking fee is not a political contribution. I’m actually baffled by this discussion.

          • I’ll make it easy for you with an extreme hypothetical example. NOT AN ACTUAL SUGGESTION THIS HAPPENED, since you seem rather paranoid about this.

            * Union wants Trudeau to swing Liberal vote to pro union position, but can’t donate to him because it’s illegal.

            * Union instead hires Trudeau as a paid speaker. They have him recite the alphabet at a small private event with an audience of 5 and pay him $15,000.

            * Trudeau proceeds to swing union vote as they wanted.

            Was that $15,000 a speaking fee? Or an illegal donation?

            I think you can clearly see that in this extreme, contrived example, this is a donation.

            Obviously if they were going to set up a quid pro quo like this it would be disguised better, but that’s the gist of it. Again…I don’t think anything like this happened here. There is no evidence that anything like this happened here. But it’s most definitely not unfair to ask the question.

          • Your disclaimor in the last paragraph is unnecessary, john g. You actually are the perfect example of how political spinning works. Oakey didn’t even have to write the talking points on this one. You did it for him.

          • OK. I see you are not yet cynical enough to have had your spirit crushed by the horrors of the world. Enjoy the rose-coloured glasses. I think this discussion is over.

          • Well don’t get mad at me because you were successfully spinned by the Tories…

          • Don’t worry John, I certainly am cynical enough for the both of us. I’d reject this hypothesis strictly on the basis of cost/benefit analysis. If you’re looking at it from the perspective of the time in which it occured, it is just too high a cost for too low a potential payoff. Better to sink $15,000 into the 649 than gamble it on the political long-shot that was Trudeau at that time.

          • From a cost benefit analysis, I think there’s a better reason for a union not to do what’s being implied.

            The question isn’t “Why waste money trying to influence a man to vote the way you want him to on an issue if he might not even become an MP”, the question is “Why waste money trying to influence a man to vote the way you want him to on an issue that he ALREADY AGREES WITH YOU ON?”

            The conspiracy theory that the unions used their money to influence Trudeau to vote against this bill makes no more sense to me than would a conspiracy theory that held that anti-abortion groups used their money to influence Brent Rathgeber to bring up abortion. Why waste money trying to influence someone to do something that they were always going to do anyway?

          • Yep. Makes sense to me too. I don’t really think there’s any smoke here.

          • So your arguement is that people don’t support people that they er, support?

          • No, my point is that the notion that this was a campaign contribution or a bribe is silly.

            First, Unions can’t contribute to campaigns, so this would be an illegal campaign contribution.

            Second, and more importantly, Trudeau can only contribute $2,200 to his own campaign (candidates are allowed to contribute $1000 over the $1,200 individual donation limit to their own campaigns).

            So, the argument here that the money was nefarious is one of two arguments. 1) This was a $20,000 bribe to get Trudeau to take a position that he ALREADY HELD. Or, 2) The union gave a wealthy candidate $20,000 for speaking to them so that he could funnel less than 10% of it in to his campaign.

            Neither of those scenarios make any sense to me. You don’t give someone a $20,000 bribe to get them to agree with you on an issue that they already agree with you on. And if you’re going give someone money directly so that they can illegally funnel it in to their campaign, you don’t give them $17,800 more than they’re capable of funnelling into their campaign.

          • Yep. Completely agree.

          • Here’s the problem with your reasoning:
            • a hypiothetical example IS an actual suggestion that it might have occurred. You can’t advance something conceptually as a notion worthy of discussion, but then characterize it as empty verbiage. If you’re discussing it, you’re countenancing it, even if you don’t grant it much credibility.
            • an obvious consequence of such reasoning is that any politician voting in any capacity along the same lines as a potential interested party (and let’s not forget, all Canadians should be interested parties to most legislation), that has at some point communicated directly or indirectly with said party, received compensation, received either overt or covert donations, of money or in kind, is potentially in a conflct of interest by this reasoning. In order for a $15000 fee to count as an illegal donation, one has to prove (not merely assert) a quid pro quo, or use a definition of “fee” and “donation” so general as to be semantically null. And it’s not just speaking. If Kellie Leitch receives compensation for treating a patient that runs a Conservative-friendly organization, is THAT an illegal donation?

            You can’t keep suggesting things seriously and then walk them back by adding “but I don’t believe my own examples”. It’s inane.

          • Your past belief in Harper got us all the same thing: the most evasive and untrustworthy pm yet. And we’ve had a Mulroney in there, so that’s sayin’ something.

            So forgive some of us if we want to indulge in our own beliefs about Justin Trudeau, and our hope that he will be prime minister sooner rather than later. Squeaky clean? I have seen nothing that says otherwise: nothing that isn’t nonsense.

          • How can you seriously say it isn’t?
            Would it be okay for a cabinet minister to be paid 2 million bucks by a business organization for a one hour speech?
            How is this any different in principle?
            The unions bought themselves a politician.
            Lather, rinse, repeat.

        • Don’t be obtuse. When an individual runs a business for a number of years as a public speaker, where do you get this ridiculous idea that his speakers fees are poiltical donations? It is patently absurd. Next thing you know, every Lawyer in the H.O.C. will be accused of billing clients as secret political contributions. Purchasing a book penned by an author sitting in the house will be a political contribution. Lame, lame lame.

        • But that’s the point of this discussion isn’t it? Is the speaking fee actually a laundered political contribution from a union?

          I don’t think the implication being made is actually that the speaking fee is a laundered political contribution. It would seem to me that the implication being made here is the more serious implication that the speaking fee is a bribe.

          There’s a limit to how much Trudeau can contribute to his own campaign, is there not? Also, while perhaps not as wealthy as many might assume, he’s not exactly poor. I presume that he’s easily capable of maxing out the maximum personal contribution he’s allowed to make to his campaign without any hardship. There’d be no REASON for a union to figure out a way to contribute illegally to his campaign by giving money directly to HIM would there?

          Perhaps I’m missing something, but it would seem to me that the spin that is being created here isn’t meant to be “Unions made illegal contributions to Justin Trudeau’s campaign” the spin people are trying to create is “Unions bribed Justin Trudeau to vote the way they wanted him to”.

          • Damn, dude. You’re even more cynical than I am. :)

          • To dumb down the spin even further, the message would be that ‘Justin Trudeau is in the pocket of Big Labour.’ Yeah, ok, sure whatever… but I imagine that line is going to be as effective as ‘Stephen Harper is in the pocket of Big Oil.’ It’ll have some traction in certain quarters, with folks that weren’t going to vote for Trudeau/Harper in the first place, but beyond that? Meh. There might be enough circumstantial evidence to build a narrative, but I’m not sure it’d be an effective narrative. Might be something to build a fundraising campaign around, though.

          • Was Harper paid big bucks by big oil?
            Was Trudeau was paid big bucks by big labour?

      • yes we are

  4. Thank you Mr Wells for this reporting. Mr Trudeau’s views on C-377 are curious. As it stands now, OPSEU workers have no right to know that their union paid $20,000 of their dues to Justin Trudeau to give a speech on March 5, 2010. This is what C-377 seeks to remedy in the interests of transparency. Until now, they only way those dues-paying union members know about it is if Justin Trudeau himself reveals it.

    He has done for the OPSEU union members what C-377 seeks to do for all union members. So it is logical to assume therefore that Trudeau is in favour of C-377?

    But he isn’t. So the logical assumption has to be that he favours the ability of the union leadership to keep secret from the membership the spending of union dues on non-collective baragaining activities.

    • OPSUE members (all union members for that matter) have the right to see OPSEU’s financial statements/budgets & they also have the right to ask questions about the types of expenses listed on those financial statements/budgets. If the membership has issues with they way the money is being spent, they also have the right to vote out (of office) those people making the spending decisions.

  5. By this same logic, shouldn’t any of the many MPs in the House who are lawyers and have ever accepted legal fees from any organization (private corporation, Crown corporation, professional association, consulting firm, union, etc.) be required to pay back those fees because they, like Trudeau, have been “compromised” by such a relationship in a previous incarnation?

    • it absolutely follows. In a general sense at the same time, it is of course possible that donations could be laundered in the form of paid services – although i do not believe this was the case in Trudeau’s speeches.

      If there are going to be rules about this – and maybe there should be – a big factor to consider is whether teh going rate applied. Trudeau did the same amount of work for his fees that he did for non-political clients, a major factor showing no special treatment.

      Without any hint of wrongdoing and a track record that looks legit, a responsible political would only bring this up if they had strong evidence something was amiss. Shame we don’t have one.

      • I have concerns about an expectation that politicians should abandon/curtail/mothball/suspend/abstain from their business or professional activities in order to enter politics. That’s definitely a deterrent from running for public office for all but the independently wealthy (which Trudeau isn’t, yet). Subject to transparency requirements (which Trudeau actually exceeded in disclosing his fees), I think it’s reasonable to allow office holders to maintain a viable professional or business vocation to which they can safely return after leaving office. That’s always been the case, historically, in representative democracies.

        • I share your concerns and lean to your views in fact.

  6. Because in 2006, Trudeau saw a psychic who said that Justin would lead the Liberal party and he would then have an opportunity to thwart some anti-union legislation? Or was it the unions that knew in advance who to give money to because that would be amazing. Abracadabra!

  7. “Should a leader…” Well, since he wasn’t the leader at the time and has stopped taking any money for such appearances…

  8. Is someone suggesting that Unions knew years in advance that Harper would be tabling a bill requiring them to influence Justin Trudeau to cast a vote against it?

    • Long term strategic planning.

    • No one is suggesting that. It is just that with everything Justin Trudeau is saying about himself and what he believes in, he should be supportive of C-377. But he is opposed. So the question is why?

      • I believe you shoud read the article and ask the question, according to the article, about why some Conservative MPs voted against it also: on grounds of privacy and free association.

        • I could but actually I wish to know why Justin Trudeau is opposed to C-377. Given what he says his principles are, it doesn’t make sense. I have a hunch that Conservative MPs haven’t charged $20,000 to give a political speech to a union, have they?

          • You could write him a letter.

          • I’ll wait for his speech and then decide if I agree he has good reasons to oppose C-377. Until then I am confused by what he says he believes in and what he does in practice.

          • So how do you feel about Harper, then? Cuz the difference between what he says and does is immense.

          • They’d be too afraid something might rub off.

  9. Okay .. Having given this careful consideration I’ve come to the
    conclusion that I will give all this .. and Mr. Oakey .. the attention
    it deserves .. :)

  10. Certainly this will add another arrow to the quiver. The words and actions of the Young Dauphin are those of a man seriously lacking in experience and judgement, and Canadians will be hearing about this again and again over the next two years from the CPC and the NDP, the Bloc, and possibly the Greens.

    And why not? The LPC is a shadow of its former self, and neutralizing the LPC in Quebec will be key for the NDP and the Bloc in order to stay competitive (for the NDP) and relevant (for the Bloc). The Greens need the urban voters who normally vote Liberal in order to expand beyond the one seat they have now, so they will gladly jump on the Young Dauphin with both feet.

    And of course it is in the interest of the CPC to keep the Progressive vote split, so any ammunition the Young Dauphin hands them will be well received (and used).

  11. Trudeau, the MP, also took a $20,000 fee from Rogers Media. The telecommunications industry is regulated by the feds.
    This is without a doubt, a conflict of interest.

    • You have to wonder if that doesn’t have some effect on Macleans’ coverage of Trust Fund Trudeau.

  12. Canada’s journos are unionized – CEP Local 87 covers Southern Ont apparently – did any journos’ locals give money to Trudeau?

    Trudeau gets fairly cushy coverage from journos, so maybe Trudeau is paying them, or journos are giving payments in kind, instead of money.

    • You do occasionally rise to some supremely stupid paranoia. Or sublime irony.

    • Don’t know about Trudeau and the media union,but the CEP bought some very expensive advertising at the NDP convention which was part of the $344,000 payback ordered by Elections Canada.
      Funny we don’t hear much about that.

  13. Mr. Wells, I think the transparency remark is a bit unfair. Mr. Trudeau has only campaigned for transparency in government and political parties not random organizations.

    Should anyone who ever sold their house have their incomes made public because the sale of their principal dwelling was exempt from capital gains taxes? We taxpaying non-homeowners put a lot of $ into that little perk and I am TIRED of the lack of transparency!

  14. Trudeau was engaged to come and make a motivational speech to in most cases a group of teachers. He was a teacher. He would not be in any type of discussion with the teachers federations themselves. Being a public speaker was his job, his source of income. So is the next criticsm going to be that he has a conflict of interest because he was a teacher and therefore belonged to one of these federations? I mean really people are really stoping very low to find reasons to put him down. Sour grapes.

    • So if a conservative MP was paid by a corporation for a speech you would have no problem with it?

  15. I would say consider your source Mr. Wells. Terrance Oakey, a former Conservative party staffer and conservative MP staffer – now heads the lobby group Merit Contractors (please all he does is lobby) and who has unprecedented access to the PMO — over 10 meetings in a year to promote this bill, including meetings with Nigel Wright. C-377 passes with the speed of light for a private members’ bill that somehow claims to be about the Income Tax Act but really is about regulating unions – a provincial jurisdiction.

    • Blaming the messenger is not going to cut it, unfortunately for Justin Trudeau. This is what happens when you don’t have a proper leadership contest and decide the leader based on celebrity not accomplishment.

      PM Harper’s hockey book is coming out in November and all royalties from the book will be donated to the Canadian Forces Personnel and Family Support Services (CFPFSS), in order to provide express assistance to military families in need of aid. The contrast with Trudeau is going to be striking.

      Scene from 2015 Election Debate:

      Mulcair: The Prime Minister and I don’t agree on much, but what we do agree is leaders give money to charities, they don’t take money from them. I am a MP. I don’t bill people $20,000 to give a speech. In 2007 in your first full year as a MP, you say you made $462,000 on speaking gigs. And you charge a seniors charity thousands of dollars to hear you give a speech? You call that public service? You call that good judgement? You call that leadership?

      Trudeau: That’s not fair! The Ethics Commissioner said it was OK!

      Mulcair: Pathetic.

      To think the Liberals could have had Garneau or even Rae. Instead they are now stuck with Justin Trudeau. Its going to be a long 2 years and 4 months.

      • Oh yeah…the “hockey book”…


        Yeah….that contrast will be interesting.

    • How about, instead of considering the source, consider the merits of the argument? I know it’s fashionable in some circles to disregard anything said by someone who leans to the right out of hand, but it would be nice to see some rational thought out of you people once in a while.

      • So according to your reasoning, we are to judge Mr. Trudeau’s character based on his speaking engagements, stated positions and past and future associations, but we are NOT EVER to do the same for Mr. Oakey, the person launching these accusations?

        That’s a neat trick.

  16. So I’m just trying to picture this. A union calls up this Speakers Bureau thing and either says “we want Justin Trudeau to speak at our event” or “this is how we picture our event, who do you recommend?”

    And then when Trudeau goes to sign the contract there’s some kind of wink, wink, “if you ever become a politician remember we hired you” moment.

    And then a couple years later he votes on a bill that affects unions.

    Is that how this went down?

    • One can imagine a conservative being chosen to speak to an organization, say CAPP and is paid. Wink wink and the bill reducing environmental standards for pipelines comes up and he votes in favour…. Is this how it goes down?

      • Conservative’s don’t need to be paid to destroy the environment because they’re all inherently evil from the day they were born.

        • LOL. I do ot think they are inherently evil but the evil branch of the party appears to be in all the important positions while reasonable Conservatives are being silenced. Apparently that is starting to change as the progressives are starting to push back against the regressives ironicly called the Reform.

    • That, and in 2012 he gave a speech to the OPSEU union, as an MP, and pocketed 20 grand.
      He states that it would be wrong for an MP to charge for a speech made as an MP, then says he has never done so, but the fact is he did.

  17. “…while Liberals may not like the association, they’d better be prepared to face such questions when an eventual campaign rolls around.”

    The folks that are going to lap this up are Conservative partisans. You wouldn’t have to change Oakley’s letter around too much to craft a helluva fundraising letter for the party faithful — folks who are more than willing to connect those dots. They already hate the guy, and they won’t mind being given a reason to hate him some more. Will any of this have any traction in the broader public come election time? I’m skeptical. Within the party itself? Absolutely.

    • Wouldn’t work on me. Trudeau being incompetent and a raving leftist is more than enough for me to dislike him. No corruption required.

      • I thought you were ticked at the party? I wouldn’t have thought they could get you to send them a donation with any kind of fundraising letter, no matter how hard they tried to whip you up.

        • That’s true too. The only “donation” I’ve ever made to the party was joining a friend at a Poilievre-sponsored breakfast several years ago. Other than that, the CPC has never seen a dime of my money & they never will.

          • I have a hard enough time deciding where to ‘donate’ my vote. Real spendin’ money? No chance!

    • You are right. Those who are looking for a reason to dislike him will jump on this but most people recognize that all parties have members who get aid for making speeches, often to charities. That includes Conservatives.

      • Oh? Care to name any Conservative’s who’ve been paid by charities to give speeches?

        • Jacques Demers (although I’m sure you know that, and have already written to your party’s HQ demanding that he be removed from caucus).

  18. I think the sleaziest part of the ‘feeasco’ is that the son of a woman with mental health problems charged the CMHA $20,000 for a speech when he is a frigging millionaire.
    That is beyond classless and clueless,that is amoral.
    Think about it,would you take the money and run?

    • you’re pretty disgusting to drag his mom into your made up scandal.

      • Sure Bud.
        He also charged a literacy program $ 20,000.
        Doesn’t that offend you personally?

        • They said they were happy with his speech and said it met their objectives. When asked if they wanted the money back the declined. While we are on he topic of speeches for pay, there are members of ALL parties that have done so as well.

          • Which other MP’s have taken money from charities for giving speeches?

          • None.

      • Right. Trust Fund Trudeau can make a career based on his family name, but mentioning his mother is crossing the line? Give me a break.

      • Justin is pretty disgusting for charging the mental helath association $35,000.00 to speak.
        Most people would volunteer or donate if it was their mother with the problems.

    • Are you certain she HAS mental health problems. Where is your evidence. Many people have issues that affect thier mental health at one time or other but do not currently have a problem. Please provide the reference for you comment.

      • Maybe she does not at this specific moment.She is likely on medication. I don’t think that bi-polar disorders ever go completely away.

        But she has struggled with mental heath issues for years.
        I am not criticizing her for that. She has been very candid and open about her problems.She has written books on her struggles. She also has done years of work for the CMHA.

        The point is..it is unbelievably crass to take money from an organization that has helped your family. If you’re OK with that,or want to deflect the point of my comment away from Justin,you quite likely have mental problems(HDS). At the very least,you have reading comprehension problems.

        • Actually, I work extensively with Mentally Ill people. More resources are always needed so I would perfer that no speakers take money, but many do. Even Psychiatrists and Mental Health experts as well as. Politicians of other parties. His fees are not going to break the bank and, had he not attended, would the event been as successful? The biggest problem in the Mental Health field is cuts to funding from both senior levels of government. They close institutions without adequate alternative care resulting seriously ill people being on the street.
          Trudeau was asked to speak and offered a fee for doing so. Would it be better optics if he had donated the fee back? Of course but he did nothing wrong legally so it was his choice.
          I take issue with your dragging his mother into the debate. Her mental health should not be the issue. If others take a fee Nd it is OK with you then his taking a fee should not be an issue regardless of his mother. Your dragging her into the issue is crass in my opinion. As for my mental health, it is just fine.

          • “As for my mental health, it is just fine.”

            It must be your reading comprehension then,though most likely a combination of both.

    • $35,000.00 actually, he did it twice.
      Any other politician would be finished after that one.

  19. Quebec, Liberals, politics and money. A volatile combination.

  20. The unions are handing money over to Trudeau. Trudeau will take the money to do the things that Trudeau believes in. Trudeau will also not look unfavourably on the unions with the unions handing over payments.
    It doesn’t matter if you can connect the money directly to a specific vote or a specific campaign event. The unions are using their money to hopefully deliver, in one way or another, things that they want, by transferring the money to an individual who in the long run might achieve a lot of power.
    There’s nothing ethical about it. Politicians should not be in the pay of specific constituents.

    • The citizens of this country need to stop contributing a damned penny to any politician then. No more donations. No more tax breaks for contributions. It might influence a vote.

      • I’m not talking about campaign contributions. The story is about payments to elected politicians outside of campaigns.

    • The very same can be said of conservatives who receive money from corporations. Shareholders dividends are reduced to pay for donations to political entities and that should be made public. I may not agree who the company donates to.

      • Ok you are aware that companies are forbidden from making political donations right? This pretty much explains all the average Trudeau voter, uninformed.

        • Yes, but they found a way around it. They simply donate the max to the Reformer’s in the name of their employees and give them the tax credit as part of their bonus packages.

          • Bullshit.

          • No it is not. I live in Alberta and know hundreds of people in the industry and have friends who received such bonuses. It’s the dirty little secret people like you like to deny.

    • You mean the Unions made an “investment” in Liberal Justin…??

  21. Do Canadians deserve to know who made large contributions to Harper’s party leadership campaign? Shouldn’t that be even more shady?

    • I think corporations should have to disclose all use of income publicly because it affects the level of profit and thus dividends. As a pensioner, my pension fund holds shares in a number of companies and I would like to know who the company donated to. Since they are using money that should have been dispersed to shareholders, I have a right to know according to the logic of this bill.

      • ALL companies listed on the TSX, have to disclose their financial statements. Knock yourself out: http://www.tmx.com/en/index.html

        But then again, not knowing such a basic fact about business law I doubt you’ll be able to understand them.

        • Actually the standard in the new legislation, as I understand it, is higher than thatforpubliclytradedcompanies and if unions have to meet a standard regarding political donations so should business.

          • What the hell does that have to do with the debate? You stated you wanted Businesses to disclose their incomes, its all there in the link I sent you. You then come back muttering something about he Union bill?

            And your “understanding” is wrong old man, The standard is FAR LESS stringent than that of PTC’s. A few pointers come to mind: 1)The financial statements do not have to be audited by a external firm unlike companies in the TSX. 2) Unions will not need to disclose their cash flow analysis, only their GL’s. 3) Salaries of the Union Bosses can classified however they can be accessed via FOA. Something companies do not have he luxury of doing.

        • Show me where they list their political contributions and to whom in those statements? I have many friends who work in various roles in the oil and gas sector and most of them got bonuses in the form of tax credits (or it was part of their bonus packages) for political donations to the Reformer’s made by the company in their name. They never asked for it but got it none the less. And that level of detail is NOT on the financial statements companies disclose to their shareholders.

          • Since it is illegal for them to donate to federal political parties it is doubtful they would list them.
            But your statement helps explain why you think it’s okay for Justin to break the law: You didn’t even know there was a law.
            As for your tale of you know a guy who knows a guy, well we all can make up stories like that…..

          • Justin didn’t break any laws and I use my real name, as opposed to people like you who hide behind a pseudo-name, so I am not about to list names of people who could be traceable.

            Why do you think Harper got rid of the fairer and cheaper voter subsidy and kept the far more expensive and unfair tax credit? It wasn’t because he’s an honest, decent, caring person.

    • Well since it was legal for corporations to donate to politicans back then, who knows?
      But now, today, and since 2006, it has been illegal for unions and corporations to donate to politicians.
      Which is why this end run around the law is so serious.
      Do you really want a PM like Justin who has such contempt for the laws of Canada?

  22. I guess since the Tories think it is a conflict to give a paid speech to a Union organization then vote on a bill affecting the Union movement, it would be fair to have the likes of Joe Oliver recused from voting on issue that effects profits of oil companies since he has spoken at CAPP functions and many others have as well in the effort to gain contributions for the party. I am betting that several Tories have given speeches to different business organizations for either fees or campaign contributions thus should be prohibited from voting on such bills as taxes, environment, pipeline approvals etc.

    • Was he paid by those organizations?
      Or did he recieve donations from those corporations?
      Because if he did, it is against the law, since unions and corporations are not allowed to donate to political parties or politicians.
      That’s the whole point here, which the liberals are trying so hard to avoid: Unions and corporations cannot legally fund politicians.

      • My understanding he was hired as a speaker and paid a fee. About fourth other MLAs do this as well. So do many Senatots such as Jaque Demers and Pamula Wallin. It is legal but some are trying to use this character as sanitation to deflect the Tory problems around the PMO, Senate and Porter.

  23. I’m not worried about whether an MP speaking to a union, or any other interest group, and getting paid for it, is a conflict of interest. It’s really small potatoes. There’s a far larger conflict of interest that I haven’t heard anyone talk about.

    We know Pamela Wallin sits on at least one board of directors. Isn’t that a conflict of interest? After all, she’s being paid a handsome salary for that, and that’s bound to influence how she votes. How many other MPs have these types of positions? Are any of them on the board of a non-profit or charitable organization?

    Also, how many have stocks, bonds, or other financial interests in corporations? That’s also a conflict of interest, The potential for personal gain could influence their votes. It also makes one consider the question of insider trading. Knowing about legislation in advance, they could make investments so as to profit by that knowledge.

    All of our representatives, in the HoC and Senate, must disclose directorships and financial holdings when they declare their candidacy. Before being sworn in they should resign their directorships and either sell their investments, or place them in a blind trust.

    • “Also, how many have stocks, bonds, or other financial interests in
      corporations? That’s also a conflict of interest, The potential for
      personal gain could influence their votes. It also makes one consider
      the question of insider trading. Knowing about legislation in advance,
      they could make investments so as to profit by that knowledge.”

      Good questions!!! May bee we should ask baby Trudeau’s trust fund manager. (remember,Trudeau refused to disclose the contents of his portfolio)

    • You mean like then Finance Minister Paul Martin’s CSL “blind trust”… while CSL received some $160 Million in Liberal government subsidies… all done on the up-and-up..??? lol

  24. When you’re an MP and give a speech to a union expressing legislative support for it, and they pay you a big, fat speaker’s fee, it’s clearly profiting from politics and also possibly deriving a benefit for yourself in exchange for a future benefit to the union.

    This is money for support, blatant corruption. Plain and simple.

    • I see your point so lets open up all the donation lists to such right wing organizations as Ethical Oil and the NCC.

      is that fair enough?

      • Nice false analogy. I’m not, and no one is, forced to pay dues to any of those organizations as a condition of employment. Do you not grasp that distinction?

        • but it’s not a job, you can divert your union dues to other sources but must still pay them

      • How are MPs involved in that Dave?
        Which ones are recieving money from them?
        If they are, point it out, because it would be illegal.

  25. Unbelievable…This debate is actually getting traction. Guess Canadians are indeed as dumb as the Tories believe them to be.

    • Justin charged the Canadian Mental Helath Association 20 grand despite the fact his mother has battled metnal health problems for years?
      I think your boy has an image problem, ie, he’s a greedy out of touch idiot.

      • Your comment about his mother is out of line and is a testament to how political discourse has degenerated in this country. Shame on you Stan.

        • How is it out of line?
          He is a disgrace and a fool.
          But his lack of morals and ethics, and the same lack in those who support his depraved greed do show how political discourse has degenerated.
          The fact is that instead of helping out like any normal moral person would he simply saw it as a cash cow.
          It’s his own mother for Christ’s sake.
          Sickening, and sickening that you either don’t understand that or choose to endorse his greed and lack of morals.
          I have nothing to be ashamed of, but he sure does.

      • In a recent speech given in North Bay, ON, to a mental health organization, Margaret Trudeau declared she was angry at those who would “bully” her son with vicious attack ads. Wonder if she was a paid or unpaid participant?!

  26. Wow!
    Wells committed journalism there!
    The rest of the liberal media isn’t going to like that….

  27. How can a politician who constantly campaigns on “transparency” be SO against that in the Union movement?

    I don’t care which Party a politician represents, if he is against transparency in Unions, he is not my kind of politician and will NOT get my vote.

    And I voted TWICE for Justin’s Dad.

    • C-377 goes extreme and focuses only on Unions. It also goes beyond transparency of revenues and spending of public money and into the financing and activities of unions with their own members funds. This might be the business of the members but is certainly not the business of the Conservative party. (ie/ the bill goes beyond transparency and into snooping).

      In general I think it heads in the right direction conceptually but the wrong direction on specifics. So does Mr. Trudeau except for one obvious point. The government itself should be subject to these types of transparency requirements long before unions or businesses or personal individuals should.

      If C-377 was a transparency of public funding to organizations (including governments and the public funds of unions and wherever public funds are going) it might receive universal support. All parties and almost all public claim to want it.

      A full transparency of public spending bill should receive universal support – but of course it won’t. Too many skeletons, too much power behind spending money behind closed doors, too much requirement for co-operation between groups that have no intent of co-operating.

  28. So, if I read the sycophantic drooling from the worshippers of the Messiah de Pierre correctly, the Papineau Prince did nothing unethical here, it is all the ravings of the Conservative meanies who don’t think it is cool of Pretty Justin to accept money from unions.

    Let us examine unions. They produce nothing. No goods, no services, they add nothing to the economy. They do collect their money from their members, some of which is to be used for the good of those members in times of need.

    The rest goes to see that the union leaders never have a time of need.

    For the messiah to accept money for meandering along for a half an hour about unicorns and fairy dust is just a dodge to avoid the direct payment of money from a union to an MP.

    This is similar to paying a masseuse for a back rub, while she gives you a happy ending.

    Oh. Wait, this analogy would have worked better for Jack Layton.

  29. First, Terrance Oakey is hardly just “an interested party”; ironically, he is probably the one individual with the most riding on Bill C-377. One of them, anyway. His organization is no more than a covert partisan union-busting enterprise pure and simple. So why you grant him standing to criticize anyone on this matter is frankly opaque to me.

    Second, as you so carefully point out, there’s no merit to the accusations, though you grant merit to the internal logic of the accusations. That’s like suggesting someone is likely guilty of murder simply because a dead person (not necessarily murdered) was in some way opposed to the accused. It’s treating something that isn’t even coincidence as correlation and causation.

    Third, whether Mr. Trudeau or anyone else took speaking fees from a union, no one has offered proof of any correlation between speaking and explicitly or even tacitly supporting their causes. This is just laziness in the service of partisanship in Mr. Oakey’s case. I’m not sure why you entertain the notion at all.

    Fourth, Bill C-377 is inept, unjustified, intrusive and unjust legislation that will have no other salient effect than to make it difficult for unions to manage administratively. It serves no one well, save that anti-union Conservative partisans feel good when sticking it to unions. Even they will discover, after several court challenges either eviscerate the law or compel it to be applied uniformly to all associations (including Mr. Oakey’s!), that this is a bad law they wish they had not introduced. Losing in the Senate will actually be a favour to them.

    Last, because of these points, I see no reason why the Liberals (or anyone) “better be prepared to face such questions when an eventual campaign rolls around” unless the media fail to do their jobs with some earnestness and industry. Unfortunately, as can be seen in this piece and many others lately regarding the Grace Foundation contretemps, you may be correct. Of course, given the somewhat lackadaisical approach you took with this, it seems like a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    • So you wouldn’t have a problem with a cabinet minister being paid a couple of million bucks by a corporation for a one hour speech?

      • If you want to construct a truly ridiculous hypothetical, you have to really go for it. Something like “So you wouldn’t have a problem with the Prime Minister living in a $200 mansion bought for him by Exxon Mobil, stocked with caviar, champagne and a wide variety of meats from endangered species, complete with spa, indoor pool, entertainment “theatre”, and a direct line to the secretest of secret RCMP assassination divisions to order covert strikes against anti-oil lobbyists, in exchange for a one hour speech?”

        What you wrote seems unimaginative or lazy by comparison.

      • That should have been “$200 Billion mansion”, of course.

  30. none of those unions are ones that have closed shops so to speak. The unions that are closed shops would be more manufacturing like the UAW which is not listed, all the unions are teaching unions.

    • OPSEU isn’t a teachers union.

      • so only one is not a teachers union big deal.

  31. Rather important piece ignored here. These are not random unions with an axe to grind. These are almost all teachers and Mr. Trudeau’s primary topic because of both interest and background and no matter where or who he spoke to was on children, education, teaching and teachers.

    This is the audience for his topic whether he himself is now an MPP or judge or dentist.

    The links between this topic and these specific activities and bill C-377 are very, very tenuous as are the arguments derived from that spider thin thread.

    • OPSEU is not a teacher’s union.

      • 8 of 10 qualifies as “almost all” in anyone’s vocabulary and the only reason for the world “almost” being included in the first place.

  32. Ever notice the paucity of speaking fees from Quebec-based organizations? Hmmm… wonder why? Trudeau has even declared himself a “Son of Quebec”… after being born in Ottawa!

  33. At best, it’s bad optics for Senator Pamela Wallin to be raking in big $$ by sitting on various corporate boards while serving as a Senator. At worst, it’s a mindboggling conflict of interest.

    Same goes for MP Justin Truduea and his paid speaches to unions.

    It is impossible to say with absolute certainty that these corporations and unions are not buying influence with their money, and for that reason such arrangements should be disallowed by law.

    • Kudos to Mulcair for not accepting that $$$$$ envelop when he was a Liberal minister in Quebec… but to ignore the rampant Liberal corruption for 17 years doesn’t bode well for Tom’s visage in the RoC … ya think???

  34. So all these Justin apologists would be making the same arguements if a senior cabinet minister was paid a couple of million bucks by a corporation or business organization for a one hour speech?
    How is this any different than Justin being paid by the unions?
    We have laws against unions and corporations funneling money to politicians and there is a reason for those laws.
    Too bad the majority of our moral and intellectual superiors in the media don’t understand those laws, or pretend they don’t.

    • JT is an MP and it is legal what he did.

      so sad you are.

      • Yes… it’s legal for a politician to steal money from orphan charities struggling to survive and provide a service to their communities. Justin flies in, spins his yarns and then leaves with $20K of ill-begotten loot. This is not the mentality of somebody who cares for Canadians… unless they are Quebecers who are “better” than the RoC …. scary, eh?!

        • the charity is fully aware of the speaking fees and that is used to gather more money from fundraising.

          do you want to interfere in this you pinko commie?

  35. Zoolander and his media tongue bathers aren’t going to be able to wash this scandal away.
    Blue Steel!

    • Justin’s handlers in the Gerald Butts Liberal Warroom have instructed him to use the “Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde” defense …. I was a MP/not an MP when I wasn’t a speaker/was a speaker. That should be enough to confuse all the Justin groupies who can see no wrong in their beloved Quebec supremacist leader ….lol

    • there is no scandal…lol

  36. As Wells himself concludes in the follow-up/final paragraph.

    Cons/NDP/Liberals all have problems with bill C-477; so much for trying to tie the Liberal position to speeches or unions or anything other than the bill is flawed.

  37. Members of Parliament have a full-time job of great responsibility for which they are well compensated. Justin isn’t as ethically or morally demented as his Tory colleagues, he just doesn’t know what he’s doing or talking about most of the time (for example, supporting the corrupt sell-off of our natural resources) – and what’s worse, his ego, charisma and skills of manipulation are powerful enough that he’s completely unaware of the depth of his own ignorance.

    If Harper is our Nixon, Justin would be our George W.

    • So in other words…Lets excuse Trudeau because he is as stupid as George W….no thanks. He is not a juvenile delinquent who needs redemption through a little TLC. He is the leader of the Liberal Party Of Canada, and what he is guilty of is influence peddling of the worst kind.

  38. So unions influence politics. Ok.
    And big business, especially Big Oil, doesn’t influence the Conservatives, right?