Even though the tax receipt was made out to an address in Hong Kong, the donation made to the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation by Chinese billionaires was not a foreign contribution. Nor was it part of a Beijing-orchestrated interference scheme, the organization’s former leader Morris Rosenberg argued on Tuesday.

The version of the facts delivered to a committee of the House of Commons by the person who was president and chief executive officer of the organization from 2014 to 2018 differed from that provided a few days earlier by his successor, Pascale Fournier.

“The tax receipts were issued to International Millennium Golden Eagle, as this was the entity that made the donation. A search shows that it is a Canadian company whose head office is located in Dorval, Quebec. Therefore, it is not a foreign donation,” he said from the outset.

Members of the parliamentary committee had these receipts in hand and repeatedly questioned Mr. Rosenberg on this specific point.

The Millennium Golden Eagle company is owned by Zhang Bin, a Chinese billionaire who is also the president of the China Cultural Industry Association (CCIA). The organization is “approved by the Beijing State Council” and “supervised by the Chinese Ministry of Culture”, according to its website. In short, it falls directly under the Chinese state.

If, in the 2016-2017 annual report of the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation, he is identified as a donor, just like Niu Gensheng, a Chinese businessman and philanthropist who also contributed, it was to signify them a personalized recognition. , argued Morris Rosenberg.

At the table of the same access to information, privacy and ethics committee last Friday, the resigning director of the Foundation, Pascale Fournier, had however argued that this amounted to “inducing Canadians astray”.

Especially since “this association was asking Foundation employees to put information on their tax receipts and said, ‘Please don’t put names of donors. Please put an address in China,'” she said.

Witness Rosenberg saw nothing “malicious” about these “administrative” requests, so the instructions were followed by the Foundation.

“The presumption that we were trying to hide the true identity of the donor […] justifies, in my opinion, the need for an independent investigation,” also defended the former deputy minister of Foreign Affairs, who was roughed up by Tory MPs, including Michael Cooper.

“Either you are totally incompetent or you have done willful blindness,” the chosen one told him.

It seemed to him unlikely that Morris Rosenberg would deny that there could have been an attempt at interference on the part of Beijing. “If CSIS (Canadian Security Intelligence Service) had concerns about donors, at no time was I told,” the witness previously said.

The committee is continuing its work on Chinese interference on Wednesday with the appearance of Alexandre Trudeau, the Prime Minister’s brother, who signed the contract on behalf of the Foundation formalizing the promised donation of $200,000, of which only $140,000 was received. been received before being reimbursed with pain and misery.

If it was the youngest son of Pierre Elliott Trudeau who initialed the contract, it was for the symbolic significance of his signature, according to what Morris Rosenberg told members of the Commons committee.

However, the donation acceptance policy, of which La Presse obtained a copy, stipulates that it is the president who must personally accept donations of less than $1 million. According to our information, no resolution has been adopted by the board of directors to authorize Mr. Trudeau to accept the donation. In addition, the same policy stipulates that the president must make the necessary checks on donors before accepting a donation.

Mr. Rosenberg has been a member of the board of directors of the University of Montreal since 2016, an institution that has also benefited from a donation from the same two Chinese donors.