Faced with the “very great difficulty” of repaying the Chinese donation of $550,000, the University of Montreal keeps the money in its coffers and will use it to finance projects related to “knowledge of democracy” and mobility international student.

The institution says it has “evaluated all avenues at its disposal” due to the “climate of uncertainty” created by the allegations surrounding the promised donation of $800,000 — the last payment of which of $250,000 was never received. — and his connection to the Chinese regime, in an alleged attempt at political interference.

UdeM has come to the conclusion that a refund would be “very difficult”, in particular because the operation could go against the provisions of the Income Tax Act, underlines in interviews the rector of the establishment, Daniel Jutras.

“We sought legal advice to determine under what conditions the donation could be returned. Achieving this would require obtaining a declaratory judgment from the Superior Court voiding the donation,” he explains. Thus, proof should be made that there are grounds for annulling it.

“But the proof, it is not easy to find. It is in the hands, hypothetically, the Globe and Mail tells us, of CSIS [Canadian Security Intelligence Service], which is not going to share this evidence with us,” Jutras said.

And if it certainly plunged the university establishment into embarrassment, the contribution must be put in context, argues Mr. Jutras. “It was nothing unusual at the time. There was a lot of activity in the interactions between Canada and China, joint research projects,” he argues.

Since then, the situation has changed: the Chinese regime has arbitrarily detained the two Michaels for more than three years, and Beijing’s actions threaten Canadian national security, notes the rector. So if Chinese donors approached UdeM right now, “we would be asking questions that we didn’t have at the time,” he says.

Only four $10,000 scholarships from the Bin Zhang-Niu Gensheng China-Canada Scholarship Fund, named in honor of the two Chinese billionaires, have been awarded to law school students. It was in 2018.

Since then, no other scholarships have been awarded, the number of applicants “being reduced”, and “the pandemic having stopped international mobility”, indicates the University of Montreal, specifying that the balance of the fund is established today. at $506,791.89.

The project ultimately did not materialize. After evaluating the project, the invoice for which was just over $3,000 for a prototype commissioned from an Inuit artist, “it became apparent fairly quickly that the amount would not cover the cost of erecting the statue, so the question did not arise”, explains the rector.

In the same donation contract, one of the two wealthy Chinese businessmen, Zhang Bin, pledged to donate $200,000 to the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation through his company, the Golden Eagle of the Millennium. .

The organization, which ultimately only received $140,000, struggled to return the check to its sender.

She managed to do it last Friday.

Emails from a bundle of internal documents obtained by La Presse show that members of the board of directors were concerned in early April that the Foundation would not be able to return the check to the issuing company. of the donation.

Some were concerned that a law firm had refused to open a trust account to deposit the funds, “for ethical reasons.”

The controversial contribution led to the splintering of the Trudeau Foundation: eight board members, four senior executives and six people acting as mentors quit en masse last week, with one calling the donation ” stink bomb”.