Dispatch from The Front Line: We will also be returning the cash from China
But we shall never give up the magnificent statues of our fathers.
Hello, Line readers! Hope you’re enjoying shovelling out, if you’re anywhere in southern Ontario. Watch out for heart attacks!
It was a busy week. Let’s get to it. There’s no better place to start than our weekly dispatch video!
(Or the podcast, if you’d rather listen.)
Our rare midweek dispatch proved something of a Godsend for us. If not for that, we wouldn’t have been able to stay on top of how fast the China story is moving. And how fast is it moving? Not only did every day this week bring its own meaningful news development, but the overall story took POEC — the long-awaited report into one of the biggest news stories we’ve ever seen in our careers — and basically bounced it out of the headlines in a single day. Literally. The back-and-forth volley of news scoops between the Globe and Mail and Global News began the very day the report was publicly released. Who’s thought of it since?
Readers who read our emergency dispatch on Wednesday are caught up on the basics of the story. Today we need only update them on the developments. And there have been some! The big one is that the opposition parties came together this week at the Procedure and House Affairs Committee and outvoted a unified Liberal resistance to call for a public inquiry into the whole affair. This is a non-binding motion. It doesn’t compel the government to do anything. Only the executive — cabinet and the PM — can launch a public inquiry. We may see a full vote in the House calling on them to do that. The Conservatives, Bloc and NDP combined would have the numbers. Whether the NDP would risk their confidence-and-supply agreement with the Liberals over this, if the PM chose to play hardball, strikes us as unlikely. But we’ll have to see what comes next. We also learned interesting things from the testimony by security officials during the hearings — more on that in a moment.
The developments weren’t confined to inside the House. Our Wednesday dispatch noted that the Globe had revealed that sizeable donations to the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation, made before Justin Trudeau became prime minister but after his rise to leader of the then-third-place Liberals. After that dispatch came out, the Trudeau Foundation announced via statement that it was returning the money.
This jumped out at us. We understand, of course, that the Trudeau Foundation is not a proxy for Justin Trudeau. He stepped back from it once his political career began taking off. We also understand, though, that having a foundation named after your dad is a pretty obvious opportunity to be softly influenced. We aren’t alleging anything illegal or even improper. But, since we weren’t born yesterday, we simply note that giving a whack of cash to a family’s charity probably doesn’t hurt your standing with and access to a powerful person. Even if the foundation and the prime minister behaved ethically at all times — at this time, we have no evidence suggesting otherwise — the very existence of the foundation opens up the PM to at least the appearance of being the target of influence efforts.
Like, seriously, our Liberal friends — you get that, right? Is a public foundation named after daddy really a good thing for an active politician to have under any circumstances?