The Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation is returning a donation worth thousands of dollars made by an adviser to the Chinese government.
In 2016, Zhang Bin, a wealthy Chinese businessman and adviser to the Chinese government, made a donation to the foundation worth $200,000.
A story published by the Globe and Mail on Tuesday suggests that Canadian security officials linked that donation back to the Chinese government.
Foundation president Pascale Fournier released a statement on Wednesday saying that, in light of the Globe’s reporting, the foundation — which funds and promotes academic and public interest research — has reimbursed Zhang the full amount of the donation.
“As an independent, non-partisan charity, ethics and integrity are among our core values and we cannot keep any donation that may have been sponsored by a foreign government and would not knowingly do so,” Fournier’s statement said.
The donation has drawn scrutiny from the Conservatives, who say it has compromised a recent report on foreign interference in the 2021 election.
A report assessing the work of top civil servants tasked with monitoring and alerting the public of foreign interference in that election was released Tuesday. It found that while there were attempts to interfere in the vote, those attempts didn’t affect the overall integrity of the election.
The assessment was written by Morris Rosenberg, a former senior public servant for more than 30 years. Rosenberg also served as the foundation’s president when Zhang made the donation.
Even before Rosenberg’s report was made public Tuesday, the Conservative Party said those ties discredit his work.
“The Trudeau government must ensure that the very credible reports on election interference are investigated in a meaningful and impartial manner, rather than trying to spin them as unimportant as they clearly have tried to do here,” the party said in a media statement.
“This discredits the report and proves we need a separate investigation, and the government should fully cooperate with the House committee studying this very issue. They must cease their obstructionism, and the NDP must stop protecting the Liberals in committee so Canadians can finally discover the extent of [Chinese Communist Party] interference.”
Speaking to CBC News Network’s Power & Politics Tuesday, Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc dismissed the Conservatives’ assertions, calling them a “gratuitous smear.”