The Liberal government plans to enact a new law to limit cash-for-access fundraising, a senior Liberal source confirmed to CBC News.
New legislation will aim to make cash-for-access fundraising more transparent and reportable to Canadians by requiring the events to be held in publicly accessible spaces rather than private homes or clubs.
The events will also have to be publicly advertised in advance and followed up with a timely public report detailing how many people attended and how much money was raised.
The story was first reported in the Globe and Mail Friday.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has come under fire for attending $1,500-a-head fundraising events, often held in the homes of wealthy Canadians. News of the planned legislation comes as the prime minister faces more heat from the opposition Conservatives and NDP when Parliament re-opens Monday after a six-week break.
Ethics watchdog wants to question Trudeau
Trudeau insists fundraiser attendees hold no sway
Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson has raised concerns about events Trudeau attended involving business leaders with ties to China.
She said information to date was not sufficient to warrant an investigation, but she said she planned to “follow up” with the prime minister about his involvement in the events.
Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson has raised concerns about the prime minister’s involvement in cash-for-access fundraising events. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)
Conservative Quebec MP and finance critic Gérard Deltell said his party will wait to see details of the planned legislation, but accused Trudeau of acting only after having his hand caught in the cookie box.
“They had their own rules that they didn’t respect,” he said during a caucus retreat in Quebec City. “This is another clear indication that they don’t care about what they’re doing.”
NDP Leader Tom Mulcair issued a statement Friday asking if this development is an admission the events were inappropriate, and if the Liberals will return the money that was raised.
“Or is this just what it looks like, a cynical game to distract from Liberals helping themselves?” his statement asks. “Let’s also be clear, there is nothing here that actually bans selling access to ministers, which is the overarching problem.”
No special sway
Trudeau has defended his participation at the events, insisting attendees hold no special sway on government policy.
Answering questions on the so-called “cash-for-access” controversy, Trudeau insisted he will answer questions or listen to anyone who wants to speak with him about issues that are important to them.
“The fact is, my approach continues to be to listen broadly through every possible opportunity I get and make the right decisions based on what’s best for Canada,” he said during a year-end news conference in Ottawa last month.
“I can say that in various Liberal Party events, I listen to people as I will in any given situation, but the decisions I make in government are ones based on what is right for Canadians, not on what an individual at a fundraiser might say.”