Photo: Chris Young archives The Canadian Press Alexandre Trudeau left the board of the Trudeau Foundation about three years ago, but remains well informed about the activities of the organization .
The Prime Minister's brother, Alexandre Trudeau, himself asks to appear before a parliamentary committee in Ottawa to be able to “defend the reputation” of the Pierre-Elliott-Trudeau Foundation, targeted by various allegations in connection with a suspected donation to come from the Chinese government.
“I want to testify before the committee that is looking into this. I'm ready to say everything I know about the foundation. Hurry! indicates to the Devoir the principal concerned.
Alexandre Trudeau usually refuses all interview requests related to politics, and had not yet publicly commented on the turmoil in which the foundation that bears the name of his father, the former prime minister, finds itself. Pierre Elliott Trudeau.
However, he agreed to make an exception to this rule after seeing what he considers to be “dishonest attacks” on the organization he has been heavily involved with over the past 20 years. His brother, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, cut his ties with the Pierre-Elliott-Trudeau Foundation about 10 years ago.
“If I want to talk to the committee, it's because reputation is damaged. The honor of the fellows is questioned. They don't need that pressure,” says Alexandre Trudeau. His message is addressed to both Liberal and opposition MPs, who nevertheless agreed on Monday to exclude him from the investigation conducted by a parliamentary committee.
The daily The Globe and Mail reported in February that two businessmen acting under the authority of the Chinese government donated to the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation in an effort to influence Liberal leader Justin Trudeau. . The report was based on intelligence reports disclosed to journalists and dated 2014.
Le Devoir did not have access to these documents, and their interpretation was challenged. doubt by government officials.
Washing the honor of the foundation
“The [Pierre-Elliott-Trudeau] Foundation has done nothing wrong! There was no attempt, [much less] actual interference. The donors had no bad intentions,” assures Alexandre Trudeau, without wanting to give further details on the merits of the case.
For the rest, the documentary filmmaker and author of a book on the China relies on its possible public testimony.
Le Devoirreported in April that the University of Montreal was in fact the primary target of a $1 million donation from two wealthy Chinese businessmen, Zhang Bin and Niu Gensheng, to honor Pierre Elliott Trudeau by funding scholarships.
The Pierre-Elliott-Trudeau Foundation only came into play when it reached an agreement to use the former prime minister's name, which earned it a share of the $200,000 donation. $, in 2016. The University of Montreal collected the bulk of the amount, but ultimately forfeited the final installment of $250,000 because the donation created “uncomfortable”.
“There is no no link between the Trudeau government and the Trudeau Foundation,” insists the Prime Minister's brother.
He says he believes that the very survival of the foundation is now threatened by the bad press surrounding this affair. The turmoil also caused the departure of its board of directors in April, including that of its CEO, Pascale Fournier. Commenting on the climate within the organization, Mr. Trudeau speaks of “a management crisis” which he attributes to “errors in judgment and serious misconduct” in the recent reaction to articles about him.
Alexandre Trudeau himself left the board about three years ago, although he remains well informed of the organization's activities. “I have complete confidence in the administrators who are here now,” he concludes.
This week, the Board of Directors of the Pierre-Elliott-Trudeau Foundation tried, in vain, to obtain an audit from the office of the Auditor General of Canada that would shed light on the recent allegations.
The committee does not want him, for now
On Wednesday, the Conservative Party of Canada again demanded to summon Alexandre Trudeau to appear before the investigation led by a parliamentary committee. “His brother [to the prime minister] facilitated a donation from China to the foundation with the motive of influencing the prime minister. […] If he has nothing to hide, will he support a motion to invite Alexandre Trudeau to appear before a parliamentary committee to answer questions? asked Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre in the House.
“Why do the Conservatives want to continue to spend their time attacking me and my family instead of talking about the budget and the issues facing Canadians? replied the Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau.
On Monday, however, the parliamentary committee responsible for investigating the Pierre-Elliott-Trudeau Foundation and the allegations of foreign interference in the Canadian elections voted unanimously to invite witnesses to two sessions, but no elected officials or members of the Trudeau family.
“That was part of the deal. […] If we did not agree to drop the Trudeau family, the Liberals would not have accepted [the motion] and would have obstructed, ”reports Bloc Québécois MP Nathalie Sinclair Desgagné, member of the Standing Committee on Accounts. public.
Joined by Le Devoir, the Liberal MP who pulled off this compromise, Peter Fragiskatos, explains that the presence of members of the Trudeau family would have caused the debates to drift towards a “political theater”, even “a farce”. What if the prime minister's brother volunteers himself? “The committee would consider the request,” he assures.