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What is the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation and what does it do?



The Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation has been mired in a political controversy that pushed the organization’s president and board to resign last week.

At the centre of the controversy is a 2016 donation from two donors with links to the Chinese government. The donors pledged $200,000 to the foundation at the time.

While the donation spurred an initial controversy in 2016, interest in the story revived in the wake of recent media reports stating Beijing interfered in the 2019 and 2021 federal elections. The foundation said it would reimburse the funds but apparently ran into administrative roadblocks. (Radio-Canada has confirmed the donation has since been returned.)

The foundation said last week’s resignations were in response to the latest controversy about the donation.


“The circumstances created by the politicization of the foundation have made it impossible to continue with the status quo, and the volunteer board of directors has resigned, as has the president and CEO,” a statement from the foundation said.

But reports from the Globe and Mail and La Presse suggest the resignations stemmed from the foundation’s handling of the donation.

The controversy has also spilled into the halls of Parliament.

Morris Rosenberg — who authored a government report on electoral interference in the 2021 election — and former governor general David Johnston — tapped by the Liberal government to be its special rapporteur on election interference — have had past affiliations with the foundation. Conservatives have argued that fact compromises both investigations.

Last week’s resignations only spurred more outrage from the opposition, with both Conservatives and Bloc Québécois MPs calling for investigations of the foundation. Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre wrote to the Canada Revenue Agency asking it to “launch a fulsome audit” of the foundation, with a focus on donations the charity received from foreign governments.

On Friday, the foundation itself asked the auditor general to probe the 2016 donation.

Here’s what we know about the organization at the centre of the controversy.

What does it do?

The foundation was established in 2001 to honour the former prime minister, who died in 2000. In 2002, the federal government endowed it with $125 million to help fund its core operations. It also accepts private donations. The foundation describes itself as an independent and nonpartisan charity.

The foundation helps fund and promote academic and public interest research. It awards up to 20 doctoral scholarships each year and finances up to five research fellowships. It also supports a network of “mentors” to help young academics and organizes public events, such as book launches and lectures on public policy issues.

These mentors — who have included former Supreme Court justices, current and former politicians, journalists and business leaders — receive an honorarium and travel costs during their term.

Where does its money come from?

As part of the 2002 agreement with the federal government, the foundation cannot spend the $125 million endowment. Instead, it was invested; only income earned from returns on the investment can fund the foundation’s activities.

According to its 2021-22 charity filings with the CRA, the organization earned millions of dollars in revenue from returns on its investments. It raked in less than a million dollars in donations.

Who runs the foundation?

The foundation has two primary governing bodies: the membership team and the board of directors.

The members are responsible for appointing board members and changing bylaws, while the board is more involved with the management activities of the foundation.

Most of the board of directors and its president, Pascale Fournier — who herself is a former recipient of a Trudeau scholarship — resigned last week.

The foundation said three board members will stay on until new ones can be selected.


Trudeau reacts to CEO, board resignations at Trudeau Foundation


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the foundation will continue to make a positive impact on academic institutions across the country.

When he was asked recently about the foundation, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau insisted he no longer has any ties to the organization bearing his father’s name.

Trudeau was directly involved in the foundation from its creation in 2002 until 2014, after he was elected leader of the Liberal Party.

“The Trudeau Foundation is a foundation with which I have absolutely no intersection,” Trudeau told a news conference Tuesday.

But the prime minister’s brother, Alexandre Trudeau, is currently one of the foundation’s members.

Pierre Trudeau's son, Alexandre Trudeau, after announcing the first Trudeau Foundation scholars and fellowships in February 2003.
Pierre Trudeau’s son, Alexandre Trudeau, after announcing the first Trudeau Foundation scholars and fellowships in February 2003. (CBC)

Some members are people who were close to Pierre Trudeau, such as his former principal secretary Thomas Axworthy and senior economic adviser Denise Chong.

The board of directors also has had members who were close to the former prime minister — including his daughter Sarah Coyne, who was one the members who resigned last week.

The list of resignations also includes a wide range of academics, lawyers, former civil servants, and business leaders.

Archived photos of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau and former Alberta premier Peter Lougheed.
Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and Alberta Premier Peter Lougheed were two political giants who squared off over the National Energy Policy in the early ’80s. Lougheed would later sit on the Trudeau Foundation’s board of directors. (The Canadian Press)

Well-known Canadians have served on the board in the past, including Peter Lougheed and Bill Davis, former conservative premiers of Alberta and Ontario.

Former NDP MP Megan Leslie and former Conservative cabinet minister Chuck Strahl also have been board members, although Strahl resigned in 2016 during the initial donation controversy.

The foundation says directors and members serve on a voluntary basis. According to its CRA filings, the foundation has 13 full-time and three part-time administrative staff.

Who else has been affiliated with the foundation?

The foundation appears to attract mentors from all walks of life. Civil servants, journalists, academics, activists and authors have all been mentors to the foundation’s scholars.

Former Supreme Court justices Beverly McLachlin, Louise Arbour, Marie Deschamps, Thomas Cromwell and Frank Iacobucci were mentors in the past. The latter two were nominated by Conservative prime ministers Stephen Harper and Brian Mulroney.

Federal, provincial and municipal politicians of all political stripes have also been mentors.

Many of the former politicians who have signed up to mentor Trudeau scholars in the past are associated with the Liberal Party, such as former cabinet ministers Anne McLellan and Pierre Pettigrew.

An archived photo of the 1929 federal leaders debate, featuring Ed Broadbent, Pierre Trudeau and Joe Clark.
The great debate, left to right, Ed Broadbent, Pierre Trudeau and Joe Clark, May 13, 1979. Broadbent was a mentor to a Trudeau scholar in 2010. (Peter Bregg/The Canadian Press)

Former Conservative cabinet minister and senator Michael Fortier was a mentor as well. So was Strahl before he became a member of the foundation’s board.

Other past mentors include former NDP leader Ed Broadbent, former NDP premiers Tony Penikett and Michael Harcourt and current Green Party co-leader Elizabeth May.

One of the foundation’s former presidents, Pierre-Gerlier Forest, was appointed president of Quebec’s public health agency — Institut national de santé publique du Québec — by the provincial government in 2022.



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Samantha Bee talks politics and comedy at TVO Today Live in Ottawa – Financial Post



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Register now for the June 11 conversation with Steve Paikin of The Agenda

Toronto, Ontario, June 08, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — On Sunday, June 11, 2023, TVO Today Live is heading to Ottawa for a special on-stage conversation with the renowned comedian Samantha Bee. She has earned an international following as the host of Full Frontal and a correspondent on The Daily Show. In what promises to be a memorable event, Bee with discuss the pivotal role late-night comedians play in politics.


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The free public event will take place at the Carleton Dominion-Chalmers Centre in Ottawa, Ontario. Steve Paikin of TVO Today’s The Agenda will lead a discussion on Bee’s comedy, career and the unique political moment happening now in Canada and the United States. Eventbrite registration for this event has nearly sold out.

“Samantha Bee is rightly renowned as an Emmy-winning comedian,” says John Ferri, VP of Programming and Content at TVO. “But like all great satirists, her work is anchored in an astute understanding of culture and politics. In her case, that understanding encompasses both sides of the Canada-U.S. border.”

TVO will broadcast a recording of this conversation on Thursday, June 15 at 9 pm ET and it will also be available on The Agenda’s YouTube channel earlier the same day. Visit the TVO Today Live series page to get the latest information and sign up for email updates.

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TVO Today Live is made possible through generous support from The Wilson Foundation, whose mission is to strengthen and enrich Canada in education leadership, community, history and heritage, and public service. Events take place in communities across the province and feature conversations with community leaders and experts to inspire civic engagement.

Politics & Punchlines: A Conversation with Samantha Bee
Sunday, June 11, 2023
Doors: 4:30 pm 
Event begins: 5 pm
Carleton Dominion-Chalmers Centre
290 Lisgar Street
Ottawa, Ontario
RSVP: Eventbrite 

Media contact: Andrea MacBeth 

– 30 –

TVO Media Education Group inspires learning that changes lives and enriches communities. Founded in 1970, we are a globally recognized digital learning organization that engages Ontarians of all ages with inclusive experiences and diverse perspectives. Through video, audio, games, courses, newsletters and articles, we’re investing in the transformative potential of education for everyone. Funded primarily by the Province of Ontario, TVO is a registered charity supported by thousands of sponsors and donors. For more information, visit, and

Stream TVO on your favourite device.
Sign up to receive TVO media releases by email.

Media contact:

Andrea MacBeth
Director, Corporate Communications


Twitter: @TheAgenda 
Facebook: @TheAgenda 
Instagram: @TheAgendaTVO 
YouTube: @TheAgenda

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Canada human-rights activist still detained in China; talks frozen – CTV News




A leader of the fight to secure freedom for a Canadian human-rights activist detained in China for 17 years is taking the latest diplomatic deep-freeze between Ottawa and Beijing in stride.

Wilf Ruland, a volunteer fieldworker with Amnesty International Canada, says a sustained, long-term campaign aims to keep Huseyin Celil’s case in the public eye and in the minds of Canadian and Chinese authorities.


“Throughout the history of this case, there’s been geopolitical ups and downs, but we figure our job is just to keep Canadian government officials’ attention focused on the case and keep them working on it,” Ruland said in an interview.

Celil, originally from China, fled the country in 2001 after being jailed for supporting the religious and political rights of the Uyghur minority.

Celil, his wife Kamila Telendibaeva and their son settled in Canada that year. They had two more boys and Celil became a Canadian in 2005. The following year, the family went to Uzbekistan to visit Telendibaeva’s family while she was expecting a fourth child.

According to Amnesty International, the police in China discovered Celil was in Uzbekistan and asked the Uzbek police to arrest him. He was sent to China, where authorities accused him of offences related to his support of Uyghur rights.

“He was not given access to a lawyer, his family or Canadian officials. The Chinese authorities threatened and tortured him and forced him to sign a confession,” Amnesty says.

“They refused to recognize Huseyin’s status as a Canadian citizen, and they did not allow Canadian officials to attend his trial. The trial was not conducted fairly, and he was sentenced to life in prison in China, where he remains today.”

The Canadian government has expressed concern about the repression of Uyghurs and other minorities by Chinese authorities on the basis of their religion and ethnicity, under the pretext of countering terrorism and religious extremism.

Until at least late 2016, Celil was being held in Xinjiang Number One Prison in Urumqi, capital of China’s Xinjiang region, Ruland said.

His mother and sister, who live in China, would occasionally make a train journey to visit him and then relay word to his wife in Burlington, Ont., Ruland said. But she has not heard anything since late 2016.

In September 2021, Telendibaeva said while she was happy to see high-profile Canadian detainees Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig freed from Chinese jails, she was frustrated that Ottawa could not also liberate her husband.

A recent petition from concerned Canadians, presented to the House of Commons by Conservative MP Garnett Genuis, called on Ottawa to appoint a special envoy to work on securing Celil’s release. It also urged the government to seek the assistance of the United States and other allies toward that goal.

In a statement, the government said it continues to be deeply concerned with his detention.

“Canada has repeatedly raised Mr. Celil’s case with the government of China at the highest levels, and will continue to do so,” the response said.

“While privacy considerations prevent the sharing of details, the government of Canada remains actively engaged in his case.”

Ottawa said it would also continue to seek access to Celil to “verify his well-being.”

Accusations of interference by China in Canadian political affairs have further tested already strained relations between the countries, prompting diplomatic expulsions by both sides.

Ruland said diplomatic friction is beyond Amnesty’s control, adding that the resolution of Celil’s case could even be a bridge to re-establishing a better rapport with China.

Ruland, who recently began a campaign to petition the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa with postcards on behalf of Celil, said public support and attention are crucial.

“It’s the lifeblood of Amnesty International’s work,” he said. “It’s the public support that makes all the difference in getting governments to act.”


This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 8, 2023.

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Federal Politics: As inflation fight inflicts pain on the nation, one-third of 2021 Liberals look elsewhere for relief – Angus Reid Institute



Conservatives hold eight-point advantage in vote intention (37 CPC, 29 Liberal, 20 NDP)

June 8, 2023 – The Bank of Canada raised its touchstone interest rate 25 basis points to 4.75 per cent this week, the first such hike since January, returning the cost of borrowing to a level not seen in more than 20 years.

The latest increase, made in an ongoing attempt to curb persistent inflation, is bad news for both mortgage holders and renters, and new data from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute also reveals the amount of damage it has been doing to the governing Liberals politically.


This latest public opinion survey finds overwhelming concern among Canadians over the cost of living now correlating with a loss of voter support for the ruling party, particularly among its own support-base. Past Liberal voters appear to be moving elsewhere in search of relief.

The central bank’s rate hike has been called a “a disaster for many Canadians” by Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre, as he points the finger at government spending and budget deficits for causing the inflation that initiated the BoC’s response. Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland countered that inflation is global in nature, and highlighted the strength of the Canadian economy overall.

Poilievre’s economic message appears to be resonating. Currently, 37 per cent of leaning and decided voters say they would vote for the Conservative candidate in their riding if an election were held, compared to 29 per cent support for the Liberals and 20 per cent for the NDP. Among those faring the worst financially – those “Struggling” on ARI’s Economic Stress Index – half (51%) would vote for the CPC while approximately one-third as many would vote for the Liberals (18%) or NDP (16%).

These economic concerns appear to be driving a dissatisfaction with the incumbent Liberals among its own party supporters. Among those who supported the LPC in 2021 41 per cent of the Struggling would not commit to supporting the party again, alongside 44 per cent of the Uncomfortable.

The overall trend for the Liberals is likely disconcerting to party strategists. In late 2021, after the party had succeeded in winning a minority government, 80 per cent of Liberal voters said they would support the party again if an election were held. This dropped to 72 per cent by the end of 2022 and has dropped to 67 per cent overall this month. Perhaps softening this blow, however, is the fact that the largest portion of these former Liberal supporters say they would vote for the NDP (15%), who have been supporting the minority Liberal government with a confidence-and-supply agreement since the last election.

Meantime, the opposition Conservatives retain much of their 2021 support, with 84 per cent of voters voicing an intention to return to the fold. The party’s overall vote intention proportion is largely unchanged over the past 16 months, hovering between 35 and 37 per cent nationally.

More Key Findings:

  • Cost of living is the top issue chosen by 63 per cent of Canadians. Next is health care, chosen by almost half (46%), followed by housing affordability (30%) and climate change (25%).
  • Ontario remains competitive between the Liberals and Conservatives. Two-in-five Ontarians (38%) say they would support the CPC if an election were held, while 35 per cent would vote for the Liberals.
  • Vancouver and Winnipeg are dead heats, with a near exact number of residents in both saying they would support the CPC, Liberals, and NDP in an election (all receive between 30 and 32 per cent vote intention).
  • The Liberals maintain an advantage in the Toronto core (42% LPC, 23% CPC), but are statistically tied with the opposition CPC in the surrounding suburban areas of the 905 (41% LPC, 39% CPC).

About ARI

The Angus Reid Institute (ARI) was founded in October 2014 by pollster and sociologist, Dr. Angus Reid. ARI is a national, not-for-profit, non-partisan public opinion research foundation established to advance education by commissioning, conducting and disseminating to the public accessible and impartial statistical data, research and policy analysis on economics, political science, philanthropy, public administration, domestic and international affairs and other socio-economic issues of importance to Canada and its world.

Note: Because its small population precludes drawing discrete samples over multiple waves, data on Prince Edward Island is not released.


Part One: Top issues

Part Two: Economic stress and vote intention

  • Liberal vote retention slides

Part Three: Vote intention

  • Vote by Economic Stress Index

  • Vote by region

  • Vote by age and gender

Part One: Top issues

There are three weeks left of sittings in the House of Commons until summer recess and the Liberal government has yet to pass its budget bill. The Conservative opposition, led by Pierre Poilievre, is threatening to block the budget by introducing hundreds of amendments and filibustering unless the Liberal government led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets its demands – halting increases to the carbon tax and setting out a plan to balance the budget.

Poilievre says Canadians “cannot afford” any additional increases to the carbon tax, which will affect the prices of gas, heat and groceries. He also says inflation, a persistent issue since the relaxation of public health restrictions beginning in early 2022, is being driven by government spending and debt. The Bank of Canada argues inflation is being caused by spikes in commodity prices, a surge in demand, impaired supply chains, and labour shortages as it hiked its key policy rate again this week.

Related: Economic Outlook: Burdened by debt and rising housing costs, three-in-ten Canadians ‘struggling’ to get by

Amid these ongoing fiscal challenges, a majority (63%) of Canadians believe the rising cost of living to be one of the top issues facing the country. This issue far outpaces health care (46%), housing affordability (30%) and the environment (25%) as a top concern.

This holds true across the country, as the rising cost of living is the top issue selected in every province. From B.C. to Newfoundland and Labrador, at least three-in-five and as many as three-quarters believe inflation is one of the country’s top challenges:

Cost of living is selected as the top issue facing the country by men and women of all ages – except women over the age of 54. Men, meanwhile, are more likely to be preoccupied with government spending and the deficit (see detailed tables for the full list of issues).

At least half of all age groups believe cost of living is a top issue facing the country. There is more disagreement on the issues of health care – which older Canadians are more likely to choose – and housing affordability – selected more commonly by younger Canadians. On the issue of government spending, Canadians over the age of 65 are twice as likely to care about it (17%) than those aged 18 to 24 (8%, see detailed tables).

In January 2022, the Angus Reid Institute created the Economic Stress Index to measure the financial pressure facing Canadians. It assesses factors such as Canadians’ household costs, debt, and self-financial appraisals. The index finds three-in-ten (30%) Canadians to be “Struggling” financially, one-quarter (23%) “Uncomfortable”, one-quarter (26%) “Comfortable”, and one-in-five (21%) “Thriving” (see detailed tables).

For those who are Struggling or Uncomfortable in terms of their economic stress level, cost of living rises to even greater prominence, chosen by seven-in-ten among each group. Health care and climate change are both higher priorities for those who are Thriving compared to other groups:

Part Two: Economic stress and vote intention

Liberal vote retention slides

To fight inflation, the Bank of Canada began a series of interest rate hikes beginning in March 2022. While these increases in the cost of borrowing have had the desired effect of slowing inflation – more or less – it has also put pressure on mortgage holders and many other Canadians holding consumer debt. Renters, too, have felt the pressure, as their landlords have passed on their own increased borrowing costs.

Related: Economic Outlook: Burdened by debt and rising housing costs, three-in-ten Canadians ‘struggling’ to get by

After taking a pause for two rate cycles, the Bank of Canada hiked its key policy rate again this week, further increasing the cost of borrowing as the bank continues to attempt to bring inflation in line with its two per cent target. It also signalled that more rate hikes may be coming, a worrying sign for Canadians already struggling with their mortgage payments, credit card balances and other consumer debts.

These financial pressures come into play when it comes to Canadians assessments of the current federal government, and whether or not past supporters of the governing Liberal party would vote for them again now.

Past Liberal voters are much more likely to endorse the party again if they are in a better financial situation. Three-quarters (74%) of those who voted Liberal in 2021 and are Thriving financially say they would vote again for the Liberals. This falls to below three-in-five among the Struggling (59%) and Uncomfortable (56%).

Overall, two-thirds (67%) of those who voted Liberal in 2021 say they would vote Liberal again if there were an election today. Of the one-third who say they would place their vote elsewhere, half (15%) say they would vote NDP, while equal proportions would vote CPC (5%) or another party (6%). Approaching one-in-ten (7%) say they are undecided how they would vote:

Since the 2021 federal election, Liberal voter retention has been steadily declining. While the NDP have benefitted the most from this movement away from the governing party, there is an increase in the number of past Liberal voters who say they would vote CPC or another party, and among those who aren’t sure:

Compared to the Liberals, the CPC boast a significant advantage in vote retention. Among those who supported the CPC in 2021, 84 per cent say they would vote for the party again. The New Democrats would retain 70 per cent support, while the Bloc Québécois retention rate is closer to the CPC level at 80 per cent.

Part Three: Vote intention

Since Poilievre has taken over the Conservative party leadership, the CPC have held a lead in vote intent. Two-in-five (37%) Canadians say they would vote Conservative if an election were held today. Three-in-ten (29%) say they would vote Liberal, while one-in-five (20%) would vote NDP. These figures have been consistent since September last year:

Vote by Economic Stress Index

Canada’s economic picture may be playing a significant factor as Canadians weigh where they would place their vote in a potential election. Poilievre’s messaging around inflation, and warnings around the effects of further carbon tax increases, appear to be resonating with Canadians who are under financial pressure. Half (51%) of the Struggling by the Economic Stress Index say they would CPC if an election were held. The CPC hold a lead, too, among those who are Uncomfortable. Meanwhile, a plurality of the Comfortable and the Thriving would vote for the governing Liberal party:

Vote by region

In three key battleground provinces, the Liberals trail in current vote intention. The CPC leads the NDP by 10 points in B.C., while holding a slight edge over the Liberals in Ontario. The Bloc Québécois are the preferred party of a plurality of Quebecers.

Elsewhere, the CPC hold the lead in all three prairie provinces, while the Liberals are tied for the lead in vote intention, or hold it outright, in three of the Atlantic provinces:

Canada’s major metropolitan centres are home to some astonishingly close races. Consider that in both Metro Vancouver and Winnipeg – within ARI’s boundary definitions, home to 22 federal ridings – almost exactly three-in-ten residents in each say they would vote for the CPC, Liberals or NDP. The Liberals maintain a key advantage in Toronto core, while tied with the CPC in the surrounding suburban 905 region:

Vote by age and gender

Men prefer the Conservatives by wide margins. Women aged 35 and older are the most likely to say they would vote Liberal if an election were held today. Two-in-five women aged 18 to 34 say they would vote NDP, the only demographic where the NDP hold a lead in vote intention:

Survey Methodology:

The Angus Reid Institute conducted an online survey from May 30 – June 3, 2023, among a representative randomized sample of 3,885 Canadian adults who are members of Angus Reid Forum. For comparison purposes only, a probability sample of this size would carry a margin of error of +/- 1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding. The survey was self-commissioned and paid for by ARI.

For detailed results by age, gender, region, education, and other demographics, click here.

For detailed results by the Economic Stress Index, click here.

To read the full report, including detailed tables and methodology, click here

To read the questionnaire in English and French, click here.

Image – Pierre Poilievre/Facebook; Adam Scotti/PMO


Shachi Kurl, President: 604.908.1693 @shachikurl

Dave Korzinski, Research Director: 250.899.0821

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