The Trudeau Foundation continues to crumble thanks to a sketchy $140,000 donation from China. With its former head testifying Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's brother, Alexander Trudeau, will follow suit Wednesday at the Commons ethics committee.
According to former foundation CEO Pascale Fornier, Alexandre Trudeau served as senior director when the non-profit organization altered documents concerning the 2016 Chinese donations he brokered.
The Income Tax Act states that misreported donations could be subject to a 125% penalty. The Trudeau Foundation could also lose its charitable status if convicted.
According to a 2016 tax receipt, they attributed the first $70,000 installment to a Canadian subsidiary of a Chinese company — later identified in a Globe and Mail access-to-information request as the Chinese state-backed Millennium Golden Eagle International.
According to documents requested by the publication, a Chinese cultural group asked Canada to reissue the tax receipt to an address in Beijing, not Hong Kong.
"I sought legal advice and guidance to correct the information sent and made public, remembering that this is public money — not the donation, but the Foundation," said Fornier.
She also voiced her displeasure with how the foundation advertised the controversial donation, citing an open letter by former president Morris Rosenberg in December 2016. He claimed the first $70,000 installment was "not recorded as a foreign donation since a Canadian entity paid it."
"I immediately started to ask questions," said Fornier. "Why would we have two receipts so different that one seems to be international, with money that seems to come from China and another with an address in Québec?"
"On the receipts, the information differed from what was posted in the annual reports and what was shared with the Canada Revenue Agency," she continued. "I think this is misleading to Canadians."
"There is a difference between the tax receipt — what it said, mentioning China — and the fact that it was presented publicly, in terms of interviews and publicly in terms of the annual report, that is currently on the website of the foundation, as Canadian."
"Alexandre Trudeau currently is not on the board of directors, but at the time, he was on the board of directors and the executive committee," Fornier told MPs on Friday, adding, "This was before my time."
Fornier became CEO of the Trudeau Foundation in 2018, only to abruptly resign her post on April 10, citing "friction with the board."
On Friday, the former head of the foundation told the ethics committee she proposed a forensic audit on the donation before leaving her position alongside eight board members.
Edward Johnson, one of the three remaining interim board members, announced an independent investigation on April 12 into the donation from Beijing proxies. Fournier said her request for the inquiry destroyed trust between board members.
As reported by Blacklock's Reporter, the Commons public accounts committee, on April 24, unanimously ordered the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to audit the foundation amid parliamentary hearings on the organization.
Liberal MPs supported the motion if the ethics committee would not summon the prime minister or his family for questioning. In an April 27 interview with Le Devoir, Alexandre Trudeau said, "The foundation has done nothing wrong," adding he would "say everything" he knew about the organization.
The prime minister has denied any involvement in the foundation since becoming the Liberal leader in 2015 but condemned his opponents for "launching completely unfounded and ungrounded attacks" against the organization, according to Blacklock's Reporter.
"Those people are trying to get short-term political gain by increasing polarization and partisanship in this country," Trudeau told reporters on April 11.
However, Conservative MP Garnett Genuis said the prime minister is listed as a member of the Foundation in their latest Annual Report. "This poppycock about a firm wall between the Prime Minister's Office and the Trudeau Foundation is, needless to say, hard to take," he added.
"As soon as Prime Minister Trudeau took office, the foundation that bears his name started receiving substantial amounts of new money in foreign donations," said Genuis.
"It's not a regular charity. It's a public institution in the statute that has received massive injections of taxpayers' money." The Foundation received $125 million in taxpayer funds from Parliament in 2002.
According to Blacklock's Reporter, Bloc Québécois MPs looked into the Auditor General investigating the Trudeau Foundation.
"The Auditor General is not convinced a review by her office is appropriate," said Conservative MP John Williamson, chair of the public accounts committee, who referenced correspondence from Auditor Karen Hogan concerning the request.