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Conservative and Bloc Québécois members of a House of Commons committee have served notice that they will seek to review 10 years’ worth of the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation’s tax returns following evidence suggesting the organization misrepresented a $140,000 Beijing-linked donation.
Conservative MP Kelly McCauley sponsored a motion during a meeting of the Commons Standing Committee on Public Accounts calling for the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to provide the committee with the relevant Trudeau Foundation tax documents dating back over the past 10 years, as first reported by Blacklock’s Reporter.
The motion also called for the CRA to provide the committee with all of the foundation’s “accompanying schedules and related documents for charitable information returns” during that same time frame and also specified that all of the documents be provided in an unredacted format.
The motion also called on the CRA to provide an accounting of all the foundation’s foreign donors along with “all documents related to any audit or investigation of the Trudeau Foundation.”
McCauley said he filed the motion because of a committee meeting last week during which CRA Commissioner Bob Hamilton said the federal revenue agency may “take a look” at auditing the Trudeau Foundation because of reports that it received a $140,000 from two Chinese billionaires with links to the Beijing regime.
Furthermore, the foundation’s entire leadership team resigned in April because of tensions within the foundation stemming from its previous acceptance of the controversial donation.
Just before the foundation’s board of directors resigned on April 12, it unanimously voted in favour of launching an independent review of the Beijing-linked donation.
During the Commons public accounts committee meeting on May 12, Hamilton and McCauley had an exchange during which the CRA commissioner was hesitant to comment on specifics relating to a potential audit of the foundation. Hamilton did say that if there was enough information available about a charitable organization to assume that some of its behaviour could be “offside,” it might have the “potential” for a CRA audit.
McCauley said on May 15 that he would like to see a “clear indication” that the Trudeau Foundation “is following the rules or if they [the CRA] are just giving them a pass that regular, everyday Canadians who are not related to powerful elites or businesses or donors in Toronto, Ottawa and Montréal would not get.”
Liberal and NDP members of the committee voted to defer the committee’s vote on McCauley’s motion to a later date, resulting in a 6 to 4 vote in favour of doing so.
Liberal MP Peter Fragiskatos called McCauley’s motion “incredibly problematic” because he said it puts CRA officials “in a terrible position where they would be asked to break the privacy provisions of the Income Tax Act.”
Conservative MP Garnett Genuis said the “idea that a parliamentary committee can’t request access to documents because of privacy concerns is ridiculous.”
“Parliamentary committees exercise authority analogous to that exercised by courts,” he said. “If a court needs to access information, they can order the production of that information.”
Noé Chartier contributed to this report.