By Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday December 14, 2016
Justin Trudeau insists fundraiser attendees hold no special sway on policy
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says business people bend his ear at Liberal Party fundraisers, but he insists they do not hold any sway on government policy.
Answering questions on the so-called “cash-for-access” controversy, Trudeau insisted he will answer questions or listen to anyone who wants to speak with him about issues that are important to them.
“The fact is, my approach continues to be to listen broadly through every possible opportunity I get and make the right decisions based on what’s best for Canada,” he said during a year-end news conference in Ottawa. “I can say that in various Liberal Party events, I listen to people as I will in any given situation, but the decisions I make in government are ones based on what is right for Canadians, not on what an individual at a fundraiser might say.”
Trudeau said he and his cabinet ministers are “extremely available” through a number of public and private venues, including town halls, news conferences, or closed-door meetings with municipal leaders and first responders.
“This is a government that is extraordinarily open to multiple perspectives, as we always have. At no point does attending a fundraiser give particular or special access on policy to anyone,” he said.
Trudeau also expressed confidence that fundraising events meet the spirit of his own guidelines.
His comments today appeared to run counter to guidance offered by Christina Topp, interim national director of the Liberal Party of Canada, in a letter to all ministers and parliamentary secretaries on Nov. 4, 2016.
“Any individual who wishes to initiate a policy discussion is immediately redirected to instead make an appointment with the relevant office. As you know, fundraising events are partisan functions where we do not discuss government business,” she wrote. (Source: CBC)