Montreal university says no indication donation by Chinese billionaire was suspect

MONTREAL — The Montreal university that was promised an $800,000 donation as part of an alleged plot by the Chinese government to influence Justin Trudeau says the pledge came at a different time in Canada-China relations.

Université de Montréal spokesman Jeff Heinrich says that when the donation was announced in 2016, scientific and economic relations between the two countries were more open and there was no suggestion of possible links to political interference.

The Globe and Mail, citing an unnamed national security source, published a report alleging that Chinese billionaire Zhang Bin was instructed in 2014 to donate $1 million in honour of Pierre Elliott Trudeau as part of a plan to influence his son.

The Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation said yesterday it will return the $200,000 donation received from the billionaire and another Chinese businessman, Niu Gensheng.

Heinrich says the university received $550,000 to create a scholarship named on behalf of the two Chinese businessmen, adding that a final payment of $250,000 was never received.

He did not immediately return a request for comment today on whether the university would also return the money.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2023.

The Canadian Press