Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau under fire for giving preference to rich campaign donors

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver Justin Trudeau’s Apologies

One of the most lauded world leaders has become entangled in a scandal all too typical of politicians – money for access. It is alleged that rich Liberal Party donors were given preferential treatment and access to Canada’s Prime Minister and his cabinet at select fundraising events. This is the first major scandal for the Justin Trudeau era in Canada and could signal that the honeymoon period has come to an end. In response to these allegations, Trudeau denies all charges but many, including University of Toronto politics professor Nelson Wiseman, argue, “It’s already tarnished his image because you’re getting this pile-on of all these stories. He’s on the defensive in parliament and it’s going to continue.”

These allegations are particularly damaging because Trudeau famously issued accountability rules in 2015 that stated “there should be no preferential access to government, or appearance of preferential access” with reference made specifically to party and politician donors.Trudeau has defended himself in Parliament, weathering attacks from the Conservative MPs that demand he admit to his wrongdoing. According to The Guardian, attendees at these fundraisers included Chinese-Canadian billionaires and an insurance industry executive.

In Canada, corporations and unions are forbidden from donating money to politic parties and politicians, while individuals can contribute a maximum of C$1500. While Justin Trudeau has enjoyed a remarkably good run with the press, this scandal recalls the downfall of the last Liberal PM, Paul Martin, who lost after a patronage controversy brought down the party. Polls show that Trudeau is still incredibly popular and, with his two rival parties engaged in leadership battles not expected to end until next year, should be able to bolster his position prior to the 2019 elections.

[The Guardian – Justin Trudeau under pressure amid cash-for-access fundraising claims]

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