The federal auditor general’s office says it is still “assessing” its mandate as it relates to a request from the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation to investigate its handling of two donations with possible links to the Chinese government.
The foundation’s interim board chair wrote to the office last week, saying it would welcome an investigation by auditor Karen Hogan into donations made in 2016 and 2017 that totalled $140,000.
The foundation calls itself an independent, non-partisan scholarship organization, but its CEO and most members of its board of directors recently resigned due to what it described as the politicization of a donation from Chinese billionaire Zhang Bin and another Chinese businessman, Niu Gensheng.
Interim board chair Edward Johnson points to the public controversy in his letter and notes that when the foundation was originally created to honour the legacy of former Liberal Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau in 2002, it received a $125 million endowment from the federal government.
A foundation spokesperson says the organization believes that endowment makes it subject to audits by the auditor general, but Hogan’s office says it is still assessing whether that is the case.
The office says it investigates the activities of federal government departments and agencies, Crown corporations and the country’s three territorial governments and their agencies.