Saturday, June 22, 2013

Is Justin Trudeau Really Flip Flopping on Charity?

Justin Trudeau, new leader of the Liberal Party of Canada has gotten into more trouble with the Conservatives.

Many months ago, Justin Trudeau was paid $20,000 by the Grace Foundation to be a speaker at a fundraiser.  Later on, a letter was sent from someone at the Grace Foundation to ask for the money back. It was not returned, and about a week ago,  the letter to Trudeau was made public by the Prime Minister's Office.

The view from a seemingly Liberal slanted website:

Is the scandal here that Trudeau charged an outlandish amount of money, considering that it was a charity, after all?

Or is it more of a scandal that The Grace Foundation engaged somebody at a mutually agreed amount, then demanded the money be returned, because they are a charity.

Or is the biggest scandal that the Grace Foundation asked an individual for donations, then upon receiving no response, attempted to shame them by publicizing their name?

Incidentally, not all charities are the same, as I have found out over the course of my life.  Some charities really do good work for the most unfortunate people, other totally legitimate, but more self-serving charities are only to fund local projects in wealthy neighbourhoods.

The Grace Foundation is legally a charitable organization, but I consider it more an unpaid auxiliary to the "Church of St. John and St. Stephen Home". Before I start feeling sorry for the residents of that Seniors home, I would like to know what fees they are charged, and who is allowed into that home, and why they are admitted.  Most of the better seniors homes (like this one) are not charitable institutions, and I would guess that many of the Grace Foundation board members volunteer mainly as a way to get priority admittance for their aged parents when the time comes.

I would consider a "real" charity to be something like "Doctors Without Borders", or a soup kitchen.  An example here in Kitchener is "The Working Centre", that helps unemployed people get jobs.

It's not such a bad thing to give money to a real charity, although some people get awfully worked up about giving money to poor people.  But I prefer to at least be given a choice in my charitable donations, and be allowed to do it privately.  I would not appreciate being publicly humiliated by any charity that I decline to donate money to.

The chairman of the board of the Grace Foundation has said he regrets that this issue has been made public, that he did not agree to it, and does not know why the letter was made public without official knowledge of the board.  That is a reasonable response.

Unfortunately, Justin changed his mind later and offered to give back the money to the Grace Foundation. I think that's a bad mistake, but I'm sure he can recover from headlines like the (conservative) London Free Press "Trudeau Flip Flops on Charity".

What the Grace Foundation should do now is ask for a matching donation from the Conservatives.  And ask any overtly conservative board members for a refund of any  expense money they paid them, such as mailing expenses. If the conservatives have millions of dollars to waste on negative TV ad campaigns, surely they could afford to donate a little to charity, especially when donating to charity becomes such a well publicized event.


  1. Any fundraiser, just as any other business proposition, requires that revenues (or donations, in the case of a charity) exceed the costs of mounting the event - including speakers' fees.

    If the Grace Foundation mismanaged the fundraiser, miscalculated its costs and potential proceeds for that fundraiser, and failed to turn a net profit, it's their problem, not Trudeau's.

    Grace Foundation board member - and Conservative Party crony - Judith Baxter whined to local Conservative MP, Rob Moore, who then attempted make political (anti-Liberal, anti-Trudeau) hay of this situation.

    The 'bottom line' is that the Grace Foundation (with every expectation of improving their prospects for funds raised) contracted, following negotiations, with Trudeau. And, once they discovered that they had screwed up, went after Trudeau to get their money back. Resorting to dirty political games to do so.

    The ones with the black eyes here are the Grace Foundation board (who, of course, deny any direct involvement) and the Conservative Party (who are always willing to resort to cheap political theatre to trash their opponents).

    But, as far as your contention that, 'If the conservatives have millions of dollars to waste on negative TV ad campaigns, surely they could afford to donate a little to charity' ... Be careful. No one really knows for sure how many of our tax dollars have been misappropriated by the Conservative Party for their partisan political advertising.

  2. Fast forward a few months. What did happen? The Conservative board members who publicized the affair were let go by the Grace Foundation Board. And Justin's offer to give back any money paid to him by any charity, was unanimously rejected by all the charities who hired him, including Grace Foundation. Kind of restores my faith that there is still have a majority of intelligent people in Canada, despite electing a Conservative government. Oops did I say faith?