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PostPosted: Wed Dec 14, 2016 11:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The comic possibilities of PM Care Bear (h/t to hallsofmacadamia) are becoming more and more apparent. I wonder if the CBC is commissioning Rick Mercer to do a recurring comic bit about his antics?

Justin Trudeau says he uses cash-for-access fundraisers to champion the middle class
OTTAWA — The Globe and Mail
Published Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2016 9:53PM EST

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau came up with a new line of defence to justify Liberal Party cash-for-access fundraisers that are held in the homes of wealthy Canadians, telling Parliament he goes to these events to talk up his plan to tax the rich and help the struggling middle class.

The day after he acknowledged people lobby him at the $1,500-per-ticket receptions – in direction violation of Liberal Party fundraising rules – Mr. Trudeau faced withering criticism in the House of Commons on Tuesday and demands to stop the practice.

“On the day that he was sworn in, he said that he was committed to the highest ethical standards and now that has become a joke,” interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose told the Prime Minister. “What happened? When did money become more important than the integrity of his office?” [....]

It shows how stupid the Liberals think we are.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 15, 2016 8:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ethics Commissioner to question Trudeau on cash-for-access fundraisers

Robert Fife AND Steven Chase

OTTAWA — The Globe and Mail

Published Thursday, Dec. 15, 2016 12:00AM EST

Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson has decided to question Prime Minister Justin Trudeau formally to determine whether he breached the Conflict of Interest Act when he attended Liberal Party cash-for-access fundraisers with corporate executives wanting favours from the federal government.

Ms. Dawson, who has for weeks ruled out taking action, will also quiz Liberal MP Bill Blair – who is in charge of legalizing recreational marijuana – about a fundraiser he headlined that was attended by a lobby group pushing for laws that would allow small businesses to sell pot legally to recreational users.

Once Ms. Dawson has completed the interviews, she will decide whether a full-scale investigation is required into Liberal Party fundraisers, at which people pay up to $1,500 for exclusive access to Mr. Trudeau or cabinet ministers in the homes of wealthy Canadians.

This is the first time in a decade Parliament’s independent ethical watchdog has asked a sitting prime minister to defend his integrity. In 2006, ethics commissioner Bernard Shapiro interviewed prime minister Stephen Harper about possible inducements to get Liberal MP David Emerson to cross the floor to sit in the Conservative cabinet.

Ms. Dawson laid out her concerns about the Trudeau and Blair fundraisers in a Dec. 13 letter to interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose marked “Confidential.” Ms. Ambrose wrote a formal complaint last week to Ms. Dawson and Lobbying Commissioner Karen Shepherd, saying Liberal special-access fundraisers may violate federal rules.

“While the information provided in support of the allegations is not sufficient to cause me to initiate an examination under the [Conflict of Interest] Act, your letter and media articles leave me with concerns in relation to Mr. Trudeau’s interactions with individuals involved with the canola export agreement, Wealth One Bank, and Anbang Insurance Group,” Ms. Dawson wrote. “Consequently, I will follow up with Mr. Trudeau regarding his involvement with the fundraising events and with the three above-noted matters.”

In a separate letter to New Democrat MP Alexandre Boulerice, who also wrote a letter of complaint, Ms. Dawson said she will question the Prime Minister about his discussions with B.C. multimillionaire Miaofei Pan, who hosted Mr. Trudeau and 80 guests at a $1,500-a-ticket event at his West Vancouver home.

In an interview with The Globe and Mail, Mr. Pan said he urged the Prime Minister to allow Chinese investment in seniors’ care and real estate development, and to ease rules for immigrant investors. This took place as the Trudeau government is reviewing a $1-billion bid by China’s Anbang Insurance Group to buy one of British Columbia’s biggest retirement home-nursing care chains.

“I will follow up with Mr. Trudeau in connection with his fundraising activity of November 7, 2016 and about any communication with Anbang Insurance Group or Mr. Pan following this event,” she wrote to Mr. Boulerice.

Ms. Dawson said she will also focus on what Mr. Trudeau discussed at a $1,500-a-ticket fundraiser at the Toronto home of Chinese Business Chamber of Canada chair Benson Wong on May 19. One of the donors was insurance tycoon Shenglin Xian, the principal investor in Wealth One Bank, which was awaiting final federal approval at the time.

Another donor was Thomas Liu, whose canola oil export business might have been harmed from China’s decision to restrict the country’s imports of Canadian canola seed. On a trip to China in September, Mr. Trudeau persuaded China’s leaders to lift the restrictions.

Ms. Dawson rejected opposition demands to look into a large donation Chinese billionaire Zhang Bin made to the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation. Weeks after he attended the May 19 fundraiser, Mr. Zhang and a business partner gave $200,000 to the Trudeau Foundation and $50,000 to build a statue of the former prime minister.

She said she could find no evidence Mr. Zhang, who is a Communist Party official at a state-supervised organization that works to project China’s power abroad, “has dealings or is seeking funding from the Government of Canada.”

The opposition parties have called the donation a “backchannel” payment to gain influence with Mr. Trudeau’s government, but Ms. Dawson says she accepts the Prime Minister’s word that his involvement with his late father’s foundation ended when he became Liberal Party Leader in 2013.

The Liberal Party recently returned donations to representatives of the Cannabis Friendly Business Association after The Globe reported its representatives lobbied Mr. Blair, a former Toronto police chief, at a party fundraiser.

“I also have concerns in relation to Mr. Blair’s interactions with individuals involved with the Cannabis Friendly Business Association and will follow up regarding his involvement with the fundraising event held on April 28,” she wrote to Ms. Ambrose.

Ms. Dawson has called the cash-for-access system “not very savoury,” but her office had repeatedly told The Globe it had no basis to investigate. The Lobbying Commissioner announced last month that she has launched an investigation into the practice after Globe and Mail articles revealed that business executives who have lobbied the government were buying tickets to cozy up to senior ministers.

Of particular focus for Ms. Shepherd was a $500-a-ticket fundraiser in Toronto on Nov. 7 featuring Finance Minister Bill Morneau that Barry Sherman, the chairman of Apotex pharmaceutical giant, was helping organize. Mr. Sherman withdrew from involvement with the event at the home of philanthropist Nancy Pencer after The Globe reported it.

Ms. Dawson cautioned in her letters that the Conflict of Interest Act might preclude an investigation. The act requires evidence that politicians personally showed preferential treatment. She would also need evidence they “personally solicited funds,” which is not how the Liberal fundraising system works. Liberals outside of government solicit donations.

“To establish reasonable grounds that Mr. Trudeau or Mr. Blair may have contravened section 16 of the Act, I would need some information indicating that they personally solicited funds and that this would have placed them in a conflict of interest,” she wrote.

Ms. Dawson has called on Parliament to adopt tougher fundraising laws that would address selling access for party donations. She said Mr. Trudeau’s Open and Accountable Government rules are tougher than the conflict of interest laws and should be transferred to her to enforce.

Mr. Trudeau’s own rules say cabinet ministers and parliamentary secretaries must “observe the highest ethical standards in everything you do” and state “there should be no preferential access to government, or appearance of preferential access, accorded to individuals or organizations because they have made financial contributions to politicians and political parties.”

Liberal Party rules also state that “fundraising events are partisan functions where we do not discuss government business.” Mr. Trudeau acknowledged on Monday that government business is discussed at the events.

But he argued that he uses the fundraisers to tell the well-to-do donors his government’s mandate is to tax the rich to reduce taxes for the middle class.

“No matter where I am or who I am talking to,” he said on Tuesday, “I always talk about the same thing: The fact that our priorities are to create economic growth for the middle class by increasing taxes for the 1 per cent of the wealthiest so we are able to reduce them for the middle class. We point out that we stopped sending out child benefits to wealthy families so we can do more” for families that need it.

In the Commons on Wednesday, opposition parties heaped ridicule on the new line of defence. “Let us compare the middle class to the Prime Minister’s cash-for-access donors,” Ms. Ambrose said. “Middle-class folks are concerned with getting their mortgage approved. Billionaires at his cash-for-access events are lobbying to get their bank approved. Middle-class families are anxious about how to pay for their grandma’s health care. Billionaires at these cash-for-access events are trying to buy seniors’ homes.”

NDP chief Thomas Mulcair asked whether the Liberals “really think that exclusive fundraisers with canapés and cocktails are a Christmas gift to the middle class?”


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 15, 2016 11:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rona Ambrose is hitting a really valid point. Justin has been swanning around, promoting the idea that his government is just qualitatively better, on a moral plane, than that thuggish bunch of dictators that were in power before liberation came.

Now it's turning out that Trudeau has very much tapped into the 'fund-raising' part of being PM. Why won't people understa.nd that he's doing all this for the middle class?

Christmas is coming. We all enjoy a good chuckle.

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2016 9:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

( trudeau still thinks he has done nothing wrong and doesn't understand why anyone has an issue with these events )

PM defends fundraisers, blames media and opposition for arousing criticism

Laura Payton, Ottawa News Bureau Online Producer

Published Friday, December 16, 2016 10:04PM EST

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his government has followed all the rules for party fundraisers, and blames media and opposition leaders for creating any concern among the public.

The prime minister spoke to Lisa LaFlamme, CTV’s senior editor and chief anchor, in his Quebec riding of Papineau for a wide-ranging interview to be broadcast on Dec. 28.
• Watch “A Conversation with the Prime Minister" on December 28 at 8 p.m. ET on CTV

Justin Trudeau and Lisa LaFlamme
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau talks to CTV News Chief Anchor and Senior Editor Lisa LaFlamme in his Quebec riding of Papineau on Friday, Dec. 16, 2016. (Rosa Hwang / CTV News)

The Liberals have been under fire in the House of Commons for weeks over appearances by Trudeau and some cabinet ministers at so-called cash-for-access fundraising events, raising concerns those who can afford the $1,500 ticket prices can buy better access than most Canadians have.

Trudeau repeated his assertion, made frequently in question period, that his government follows all fundraising rules.

"That's the thing -- that comments that media and that oppositions make are causing people concerns," he told LaFlamme.

When his government took office, Trudeau instructed his cabinet ministers to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest, proposing a stricter line than the one set down in the federal Conflict of Interest Act.

Trudeau on Trump’s win

Trudeau seems to have found some common ground with U.S. president-elect Donald Trump: despite their political differences, Trudeau says Trump's rise reminds him of his own surprise win in the 2015 election.

In the interview, Trudeau compared the strategies that took both men to power.

"When you connect with voters, when you connect with citizens and show that you’ve listened to them and, you know, are in alignment with how they’re feeling, this is what happens," Trudeau said.

Trudeau won the election after starting out in third place in public opinion polls. Then-prime minister Stephen Harper called the election 78 days before the fixed voting date of Oct. 19, giving the Liberals more than two months for Trudeau to travel the country and meet with Canadians. While Trudeau's opponents said he wasn't ready to govern, he connected with the voters who sent him to power.

Trump spent months in the Republican primary, eventually defeating all other contenders. Polls suggested he didn't have the support to win the presidential race, but he managed more electoral college votes than Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

Trudeau has invited Trump to visit Canada following his inauguration. American presidents generally make Canada their first foreign visit, although George W. Bush broke with that tradition and visited Mexico when he was first elected.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2016 9:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Liberal party’s self-interest pitted against Trudeau’s word on fundraising: Hébert

A look at the fundraising reports filed to date with Elections Canada for 2016 provide some insights as to why the Liberals have so far been stubbornly resisting calls to mend their ways.

In an interview on Radio-Canada on Thursday, Justin Trudeau, for the first time, climbed down from his stone wall and opened the door a fraction to changes to his government’s approach to fundraising, writes Chantal Hébert. (CHRIS WATTIE / REUTERS file photo)

By Chantal HébertNational Affairs Columnist

Sat., Dec. 17, 2016

MONTREAL—To understand Justin Trudeau’s visceral reluctance to respond to mounting criticism of his party’s fundraising practices, it is best to simply follow the money.

A look at the fundraising reports filed to date with Elections Canada for 2016 goes a long way to explain why the prime minister has defended tooth-and-nail the controversial practice of spending face time in private with select groups of well-heeled donors in exchange for contributions to his party’s coffers.

The numbers tell a more convincing story than Trudeau’s latest contention that his participation in cash-for-access events is part of his crusade to help the middle class. They also provide some insights as to why the Liberals have so far been stubbornly resisting calls to mend their ways.

Here are some highlights:

•The Conservatives continue to lead the fundraising pack. Despite having the advantage of being in government the Liberals collected less money than the official opposition over the first three quarters of 2016. If anything, being in opposition motivates the Conservative base.

The Conservative Party of Canada’s lead did shrink from quarter to quarter this year (possibly because of the Liberals’ cash-for-access efforts). That lead is nevertheless noteworthy. This is a party that is well behind in voting intentions and at least three years away, in the best-case scenario, from coming back to government. It is without a permanent leader and is presenting the country with a leadership lineup long on ambition but short on public appeal.

•The NDP’s fundraising has been on a downward spiral since the last campaign.

Thomas Mulcair’s demotion to caretaker leader last spring has not helped. Nor has the fact that the federal NDP is on a collision course with Alberta’s New Democrat government over pipelines. In corporate circles, Premier Rachel Notley is the party’s main (and only) attraction.

For the first full post-confidence-vote quarter ending on Sept. 30, the NDP collected less than $1 million. That’s nine times less than what the party raised over the same period at the time of last year’s campaign.

•The Bloc Québécois is on starvation rations. The sovereigntist party barely raised $100,000 over the quarter ending Sept. 30. If former Parti Québécois minister Martine Ouellet does run for the federal leadership next year, the party will not be able to match her current salary as a member of the National Assembly. Nor would it have a safe federal seat to offer her.

There are measures the Trudeau Liberals could take to make part or all of the ongoing controversy over their fundraising practices go away, but only at some potential cost to their partisan interests and to the edge that their government status grants them.

They could imitate their Queen’s Park cousins and ban the prime minister, his ministers and their parliamentary secretaries from attending private cash-for-access events. But even if that ban were extended to the other party leaders, the Liberals, by virtue of their position of power, would stand to lose the most. There are, by definition, more people willing to pay a toll for fast-lane access to people in government.

Trudeau could follow Quebec’s example and bring the ceiling on political donations down from $1,500 a year to just $100. At that level, it would not be worth the party’s time to stage exclusive cash-for-access events for a small number of donors.

Quebec makes up for that low ceiling with a public subsidy based on the votes each party received in the previous election. In the same spirit, Trudeau could restore the per-vote-subsidy initially introduced by Jean Chrétien and subsequently eliminated by Stephen Harper.

If the Liberal government went down that road it could minimize the toll on public funds by decreasing or eliminating the existing tax break for individual political contributions.

But by bringing back the per-vote-subsidy Trudeau would be breathing a bit more life into the cash-starved NPD, Bloc and Green party. The move would also consolidate the Conservative’s fundraising edge.

In a year-end interview on Radio-Canada on Thursday, the prime minister, for the first time, climbed down from his stone wall and opened the door a fraction to changes to his government’s approach to fundraising. Almost in the same breath, Trudeau reiterated his promise to introduce a new voting system in time for the 2019 election.

In different ways, both issues pit the self-interest of the Liberal party against Trudeau’s word to Canadians. It is a balancing act that comes no more easily to this prime minister than to his predecessors.

Chantal Hébert is a national affairs writer. Her column appears Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 21, 2016 1:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wynne calls on Trudeau to follow her lead on ending cash-for-access events

Ontario premier says it’s time for cross-country reform of political fundraising rules

Ainslie Cruickshank

Wednesday, December 21st, 2016

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne says political financing rules need to be reformed across the country — and the federal level should be no exception.

“I think Canadians expect that there will be a different degree of transparency and clarity about fundraising,” Wynne said during a year-end interview with iPolitics.

Wynne said she hasn’t advised Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on how to deal with ethical questions raised by his cash-for-access fundraisers — but she thinks it’s time for him to act.

“I haven’t been asked advice about it, but I think that the imperative to modernize the rules is pretty strong,” she said.

Trudeau has faced tough questions from reporters and opposition politicians over his appearance at Liberal party fundraising events where representatives of business concerns — including high-profile Chinese bankers — have discussed policy files with him.

Wynne moved this year to end similar events in Ontario, establishing some of the toughest party fundraising rules in Canada. Wynne’s government initially was resistant to banning cash-for-access fundraisers — events where donors have paid up to $10,000 for an evening with the premier or her cabinet ministers. Legislation passed this fall will ban sitting MPPs and candidates from attending fundraisers.

In Ottawa, Trudeau has faced sustained attacks over his own party’s fundraising events but has so far defended them, repeatedly arguing that the Liberals follow the rules established by the Harper government.

While Trudeau admitted last week that he gets lobbied at cash-for-access fundraisers, he said he doesn’t let donors influence his decision-making, the Canadian Press reported.

Trudeau claimed he uses the events to share the government’s priorities.

“No matter where I am or who I am speaking to, I always talk about our challenge, which is creating growth for the middle class, I talk about our priority of raising taxes on the wealthiest 1 per cent so we could lower them for the middle class, and I talk about the fact that we are no longer sending child benefit cheques to wealthy families so we can give more to the families that actually need it,” he said during question period.

Controversial cash-for-access fundraisers have come to represent broader concerns about political financing in Canada — about who’s allowed to donate, and how much.

Ontario will become the fifth jurisdiction in Canada to ban corporate and union donations when its new rules come into force on January 1. The new law also caps individual donations at $1,200 for registered parties, $1,200 for constituency associations and nomination contestants, $1,200 for candidates of a party and $1,200 for leadership contestants.

But the changes don’t go far enough, according to Democracy Watch. The organization would have liked to see individual donations capped at $100 and further restrictions on cash-for-access fundraising that would prevent politicians from soliciting donations by phone.

Still, Ontario is doing better than some other provinces and territories.

“Undemocratic” fundraising rules are a widespread issue in Canadian politics, Democracy Watch co-founder Duff Conacher wrote in a press release earlier this year.

While the federal government, Alberta, Manitoba, Nova Scotia and now Ontario have banned corporate and union donations, Conacher said the contribution limits remain so high that only wealthy people can afford them.

Federally, individuals can contribute $1,550 to each registered party, $1,550 in total to all registered associations, nomination contestants and candidates of each registered party, and $1,550 in total to all leadership contestants in a particular race.

In Alberta, an individual’s contributions can’t exceed $4,000 per year to any combination of political parties, constituency associations, candidates, nomination contestants or leadership contestants.

In Manitoba, individuals can donate no more than $3,000 per year — except during leadership contests, when individuals can contribute an additional $3,000 to one or more leadership contestants.

In Nova Scotia, individuals can contribute up to $5,000 annually to each registered party, its candidates or its electoral district associations.

Meanwhile, in New Brunswick, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories, “undemocratically high donations” are still allowed from corporations and unions as well as individuals, Conacher said.

In New Brunswick, individuals, unions and corporations can donate up to $6,000 to each political party. In the Northwest Territories, contributions to candidates are limited to $1,500, while candidates in Nunavut can receive up to $2,500.

The worst offenders are B.C., Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island and Yukon, where unlimited donations are allowed from corporations, unions and individuals even if they don’t live in the province or territory. In Saskatchewan, the only difference is that individual donors must be Canadian citizens.

The model, Conacher said, is Quebec, where corporate and union donations are banned and individuals are limited to $100 contributions.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 22, 2016 8:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

( these fundraisers continue to look worse for the liberals )

Cash-for-access organizers sought payments that exceeded federal contribution limits

CRAIG OFFMAN and Nathan VanderKlippe

TORONTO and BEIJING and BEIJING — The Globe and Mail

Published Thursday, Dec. 22, 2016 5:00AM EST

Members of the Chinese community have been asked for payments of as much as $5,000 to attend private cash-for-access functions with the Prime Minister, amounts that exceed federal contribution limits.

As part of an ongoing review of fundraising activities by the Liberal Party of Canada, The Globe and Mail spoke with invitees who described requests that suggest significant discrepancies between official ticket prices and the actual cost of entry.

One businesswoman, who splits her time between China and Canada, told The Globe she was invited to a May fundraiser by Chinese Business Chamber of Canada chair Benson Wong – an event billed as an intimate evening at Mr. Wong’s home with Justin Trudeau – at a cost of $4,500. She would only agree to be identified by her first name, Linda.

Another invitee, a Toronto-area businessman, said the same event was pitched to him by a Chinese-Canadian association at a cost of $5,000.

Both invitees spoke with The Globe on condition of anonymity because they feared repercussions for their businesses and reputations in the Chinese-Canadian community. And both declined the offers and said they did not know why the cost exceeded the $1,525 donation limit.

Mr. Trudeau and the Liberals have been under fire over the cash-for-access fundraisers, which provide attendees with access to the Prime Minister at private functions in exchange for donations to the Liberal Party’s war chest.

In the past year, the Prime Minister has attended at least three fundraising dinners at the homes of Chinese business leaders, where he has shared a table with dozens of wealthy and influential members of the community. Some were at the time seeking federal approval for business deals, while others have ties to China’s ruling Communist Party.

But the solicitation of large sums of money by event organizers raises further questions about the fundraisers.

The Canada Elections Act prohibits “indirect contributions” – donations made out in another person’s name. No anonymous contribution over $200 is allowed.

Canadian rules do allow a fundraising event’s organizers to charge extra for the “fair market value” of food, drink and entertainment expenses.

But some invitees say they have been asked for sums well in excess of what might be considered the cost of a typical dinner. One request reportedly came from Mr. Wong, who hosted a May dinner at his home attended by a number of wealthy businessmen, some of whom were seeking final federal approval to open a new bank in Canada.

Among those he called was the businesswoman, Linda, who is a permanent resident of Canada.

“Benson Wong told me it would cost $4,500,” she said. “He said to pay $4,500 to him.”

She declined, saying the dinner was not worth the price, particularly given the dozens of people expected to attend; the crowd would limit her exposure to the Prime Minister, with the only real value “getting a photo taken,” she said.

Reached by telephone about the allegations, Mr. Wong said: “You can ask these questions to the Prime Minister’s Office.” He then hung up.

Requests to host events have come from Liberal fundraising chiefs such as Richard Zhou, a volunteer who has identified himself as the co-chair of the Liberals’ federal fundraising team. They approach leaders in the community who may be willing to open their homes to a group eager for face time with the Prime Minister.

Attendance figures suggest the party collects between $50,000 and $120,000 at events that draw wealthy entrepreneurs and community leaders in Vancouver and Toronto, home to large Chinese-Canadian business communities with people willing to pay $1,500 to meet Mr. Trudeau in a private setting.

The request for money can also come from organizations unconnected to the Liberal Party. In May, a Chinese-Canadian organization asked a Toronto businessman for $5,000 to attend Mr. Wong’s function. The maximum allowable contribution is $1,525, leaving a discrepancy of more than $3,000.

“I said I couldn’t go,” the invitee recalled, not wanting his name or that of the organization to be revealed for fear of recrimination in his community. “We didn’t talk about anything more.”

Mr. Zhou, who helped arrange the event at Mr. Wong’s, did not respond to requests for comment.

A spokeswoman for the Liberals said the party does not ask for contributions above the legal limit. “We have no evidence that this took place,” Marjolaine Provost said in an e-mailed response to The Globe’s questions.

“Regardless, any activity of this nature is unacceptable and not tolerated by the Liberal Party of Canada,” she said, adding that any donations in excess of federal limits would be reported to Elections Canada and refunded.

“This event was organized by the Liberal Party of Canada in conjunction with a volunteer host, and those in attendance that evening were all either supporters making contributions for the event or guests of the host,” she said, referring to the May event at Mr. Wong’s.

“The party works closely with volunteer event organizers and hosts to ensure they fully understand and respect all of Elections Canada’s strict federal political fundraising rules, and we set clear expectations for those rules to be followed at all times,” she said.

A former senior official with the Liberal Party of Canada told The Globe that fundraisers such as this are nevertheless difficult to monitor because political parties cannot control all aspects of private events, which are organized by volunteers and supporters who do not necessarily have an official role with the party.

The Liberal reliance on private fundraising dinners comes as the party continues to struggle under a decade-old rule change that barred corporate and union contributions, said Harold Jansen, who chairs the political science department at the University of Lethbridge and has studied party financing in Canada.

“This is the Liberals trying to figure out how to fundraise in the new era,” he said.

Canada’s Ethics Commissioner, Mary Dawson, is planning to interview the Prime Minister about the cash-for-access dinners, she wrote in letters to opposition members.

Mr. Trudeau has acknowledged he is lobbied at cash-for-access dinners. He has been urged by other parties to stop the practice, but said this month he uses meetings with wealthy donors to promote his party’s policies on the middle class.

Some in the Chinese community, however, argue the dinners merely offer a chance to cast their birth country – and its people – in a good light. There is, Linda said, “very, very little” desire to lobby Canadian leadership on specific commercial issues.

“We just simply want to show who we are, as a new generation of immigrants. Our motherland is well-developed, too, and we are proud of the motherland,” she said. “We hope to enhance the friendship between the people of the two countries.”

And, she added, “we feel honoured to have a meal in such close proximity to a national leader.”


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 20, 2017 8:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

( looks like all those cash for access fundraisers were a success as the liberals have paid off the money they owed from last election )

Liberal party pays off money borrowed to fight 2015 election campaign

By The Canadian Press — Jan 19 2017

OTTAWA — The federal Liberal party says it's debt-free, roughly 14 months after sweeping to power in 2015, thanks largely to new members who signed on as supporters during an aggressive fundraising campaign.

In a letter to the party's national board, party president Anna Gainey says the Liberals paid off the remaining $1.9 million it still owed from the election campaign that put Justin Trudeau in the prime minister's chair.

The letter, sent to board members late today, says the debt was paid off as of last month, and also notes that the party has enlisted an additional 50,000 members since opting in May to waive membership fees.

The Liberals spent a little more than $40 million during the campaign, Liberal national director Jeremy Broadhurst estimated shortly after it was over.

Since then, the party has been emailing supporters and potential donors at every turn, encouraging them to out-donate the Conservatives, who had shown they were adept at garnering grassroots support.

Gainey says the fundraising paid off, with the Liberals surpassing the Tories with individual donations from 35,000 people through six consecutive quarters, averaging $43.26 each.

"Our strong grassroots fundraising efforts, the elimination of our campaign debt in 2016, and the 50,000 Canadians who have joined us as new registered Liberals are all important milestones that ensure we are starting off 2017 as a fast-growing and ever more inclusive political movement," she writes.

Gainey attributed the sharp increase in party memberships to a decision taken at the Liberal biennial convention in Winnipeg to eliminate fees.

The Conservatives revealed last May that they spent $42 million during the 2015 campaign, but had already paid off a $28-million loan by then, using a combination of tax and Elections Canada rebates and party fundraising.

Elections Canada had capped spending by the major national parties for the 11-week campaign at just under $55 million each.

The Conservatives continued to dominate in overall fundraising in 2016, raking in about $13.95 million in the first nine months of the year, from an average of just under 33,000 donors in each quarter, according to Elections Canada. The Liberals collected $12.25 million over the same period while the NDP took in $3.42 million, the agency said.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 27, 2017 6:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Critics blast proposed changes to cash-for-access rules

Meredith MacLeod, CTVNews.ca
Published Friday, January 27, 2017 8:46AM EST
Last Updated Friday, January 27, 2017 3:53PM EST

Proposed changes to rules governing private cash-for-access fundraisers, where attendees are charged big money to rub shoulders with ministers, are “ridiculous,” a “charade” and a “cynical game,” say critics.

The Prime Minister’s Office has asked newly minted Minister for Democratic Institutions Karina Gould to draft rules that will apply to cabinet ministers, as well as party leaders and leadership candidates.

The legislation will not ban the cash-for-access fundraisers that see donors pay as much as $1,500 to schmooze with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau or one of his cabinet ministers away from the public spotlight.

But new rules are expected to require that the fundraisers be held in publicly available spaces (not homes or private clubs), advertised in advance and that a report be released "in a timely manner" to reveal details of the event after it’s held.

Other measures might follow after talks with opposition parties, but the government was coy about what those could be, the timing of the legislation, and how much detail Canadians will receive in public reports.

"We believe in providing Canadians with more open, transparent information about political fundraising that involves cabinet ministers, party leaders and leadership candidates. We will bring forward a plan to do just that," Gould said in a statement.

"I'm looking forward to working with parliamentarians to make political fundraising more open and accountable."

The move is aimed at neutralizing controversy over Trudeau’s presence at a cash-for-access event at the home of a wealthy Torontonian last fall that put him under fierce scrutiny from opposition parties. He is also feeling the heat after accepting lodging and a helicopter ride from the Aga Khan while on a recent vacation. That is being investigated by the federal ethics commissioner because the Aga Khan’s charitable organization receives funding from Ottawa.

Conservative interim leader Rona Ambrose called the proposed rules “ridiculous.”

“We don’t need a new law. What we need is for Justin Trudeau to respect the law that’s in place. That’s common sense,” she said Friday, through a translator at the end of a three-day Conservative strategy meeting in Quebec City.

She said cash-for-access events were prohibited a decade ago.

“We see the return of a Liberal government and we see cash-for-access events happening again. We see government selling influence just like we saw 10 years ago with the Liberal government and the sponsorship scandal.”

It doesn’t matter where an event is held, it’s about selling access to the “most powerful person in Canada” and charging to discuss government business, said Ambrose.

“It’s very simple: Just stop doing it.”

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair said in a statement Friday that the government is not poised to actually ban "selling access to ministers," which he says is the overarching problem with the fundraisers.

He also questioned whether the Liberals are admitting wrongdoing and whether they would return any of the money raised in the past from the private fundraisers: "Or is this just what it looks like, a cynical game to distract from Liberals helping themselves?"

Trudeau had previously defended the cash-for-access fundraisers, arguing that federal political financing rules, including disclosure requirements and strict caps on donations, prevent any appearance of conflict of interest.

While critics say the private events undermine government transparency and accountability, it’s not clear whether they violate existing political fundraising or ethics rules. The federal ethics commissioner has repeatedly said fundraising provisions in the ethics law need to be more stringent when it comes to cabinet ministers and parliamentary secretaries.

The fundraisers also appeared to contradict Trudeau's own guidelines for ethical government conduct, which stipulate that "there should be no preferential access or appearance of preferential access" in exchange for political donations.

“He broke his own rules and now he’s bringing in legislation to prevent himself from breaking his own rules again,” Conservative leadership contender Lisa Raitt said outside the caucus meeting.

“It’s about the fact he broke the rules. He broke the rules. So he’s going to try to create new rules so we that we stop asking about the rules he’s broken.”

Democracy Watch called the proposed legislation “a charade that won’t stop cash for access or the unethical influence of big money donations.”

The advocacy group leads a Money in Politics coalition of 50 groups representing 3.5 million Canadians. It has called on federal political parties to make numerous changes, including: lowering the individual political donation limit from $3,100 to $100 annually; limiting a candidate’s donation to her or her campaign to $100; and limiting public funding of parties and candidates.

“Any political party that refuses to support these changes is essentially admitting they are up for sale and that they approve of the unethical and undemocratic best-government-money-can-buy approach to politics,” said Democracy Watch co-founder Duff Conacher.

“The only way to stop the unethical and undemocratic influence of big money in federal politics is to stop big money donations.”

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Liberal Ministers holding cash for access fundraisers ?

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