So it turns out that Conservative Senator Jacques Demers, nominated by Stephen Harper in 2009, has also been paid to speak at charity events.
The Prime Minister’s philosophy is at odds with that of Mr. Demers, who said he takes roughly 12 to 15 paid speaking engagements a year, charging a fee as high as $5,000 and lower for charities. He says he was paid $3,500 to headline a luncheon on May 13 for a Halifax shelter, Alice Housing. He donated $2,500 of it back, he says, and would return a cheque if a charity lost money on an event.
“I didn’t steal any money, I didn’t take any money. It’s not like taking from the poor to [give to] the rich. They called me,” Mr. Demers said.
Nonetheless, Mr. Trudeau’s professional speaking should subject him to questions—perhaps of the sort raised by Paul here and Ben Lobb yesterday. A straight line between Mr. Trudeau’s speeches for unions and his opposition to C-377 is difficult to draw though. His last speech to a union was delivered more than a year before C-377 was tabled. Of course, that doesn’t preclude the possibility that his views on C-377 are somehow influenced by the willingness of unions to pay to hear him speak. So what has occurred since C-377 was tabled?
As Liberal leader, Mr. Trudeau has said that he thinks C-377 should be repealed, but the Liberals seem to have publicly opposed the bill at least seven months before Mr. Trudeau formally declared his interest in the Liberal leadership. All Liberals present in the House on March 14, 2012 voted against the bill at second reading, but Mr. Trudeau wasn’t among them. And he wasn’t present when Liberal MPs joined Conservative and NDP MPs in voting against the bill at third reading in December 2012.
Of course, now it is Conservative senators who are apparently planning to attempt to amend the bill.
None of which really precludes questions about Mr. Trudeau’s speaking fees and, as Paul notes, future associations between those speaking fees and his political positions. There are questions to asked about what he has been paid and who has paid him and then there are questions to be asked about what other MPs are earning and how.
And then after those questions have been asked, there will probably be questions about Mr. Trudeau’s attendance in the House.