Trudeau Foundation board chair decries 'unfair attacks' after interference allegation

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OTTAWA — The chair of the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation's board says the organization has been subjected to "unwarranted and unfair attacks" over allegations it received a donation that was part of a China-led foreign influence campaign.

Edward Johnson was before a parliamentary committee investigating the circumstances around a pair of 2016 and 2017 donations from two Chinese billionaires that totalled $140,000.

The Globe and Mail reported in February, citing an unnamed source, that the donors were told to offer the money in the hopes of influencing the new Liberal leader, Justin Trudeau.

But Johnson told the members of Parliament there was never an opportunity for the foundation to be part of any foreign interference attempts by China.

He said when the newspaper raised concerns over the donations, the Trudeau Foundation tried to repay the money and he sought to have the matter reviewed independently.

The foundation's former CEO and eight other board members quit on April 11, citing the politicization of the donations as the reason for their departures.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 9, 2023.

The Canadian Press