It is disturbing that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau continues to be so cavalier about ongoing revelations of cash-for-access fundraising by the Liberal Party of Canada. The more we learn, the more Mr. Trudeau digs in his heels and insists he, his government and his party are doing nothing illegal – even as it is plain to any reasonable observer that the whole thing stinks.
Mr. Trudeau disingenuously argued last week that a person has to be "pretty cynical to imagine that a government could be bought off for [$1,500]" – the maximum annual individual donation to a political party, and the entry fee for a number of the high-end fundraisers the Liberals have been holding since taking power.
We don't know the current rate for buying a Canadian government, but we do know that the fundraisers in question involve the sale of dozens, or multiple dozens of tickets, and that the party's take can be as high as $50,000 to $120,000 from one event.
These days, that will buy you a private, intimate soiree with the Prime Minister, or with prominent cabinet ministers.
The cash-for-access fundraisers highlighted by The Globe and Mail include one in Toronto in May that was attended by senior Chinese government envoys who have a vested interest in advancing China's position in Canada.
Another on Nov. 7 was held at the home of a wealthy Vancouver businessman, Miaofei Pan, who says he used the opportunity to urge Mr. Trudeau to allow Chinese investment in seniors' care facilities in British Columbia, among other issues.
Finance Minister Bill Morneau was the marquee attraction at an exclusive, $1,500-a-person fundraiser in Halifax on Oct. 13 attended by corporate executives and business people. Mr. Morneau was doing his prebudget consultations at the time.
In November, the chairman of a generic drug manufacturer helped organized a $500-a-person fundraiser for Mr. Morneau in Toronto but had to drop out when it was revealed that his company was actively lobbying the federal government.
In April, the Liberal Party had to return the donations from members of an organization that lobbies on behalf of marijuana dispensary owners when they were allowed to attend a fundraiser.
And on it goes. Mr. Trudeau is ignoring his own injunction to his cabinet that "there should be no preferential access to government, or appearance of preferential access" in exchange for political donations. The hypocrisy is plain for all to see, yet the Prime Minister continues to pretend it's not there. For how much longer?