Liberal MP Justin Trudeau
Credits: CRAIG GLOVER/QMI AGENCY
Justin Trudeau lived a fairly obscure, if privileged life, until 2006. After Paul Martin’s disastrous election campaign, Trudeau’s name was floated to lead the Liberal party. And he did not rule it out.
In fact, he loved the attention. And he started getting speaking invitations — and getting paid for it. A few grand here and there — all legal — but it started to add up.
On Feb. 22, 2007, Trudeau announced his intentions to run for the Liberals in Montreal. And that hobby he had — public speaking for cash — took off like a rocket. In the next five weeks, he made $40,000 in speeches.
On April 29, 2007, he won the Liberal nomination and became the party’s official candidate. But instead of throwing himself into his neighbourhood, he left it, flying around the country, giving up to four or five speeches in a single week. That’s $40,000 a week, in personal income.
In the last eight months of 2007, as the official Liberal candidate, Justin Trudeau made close to half a million dollars on the speaking circuit. Nothing had changed about him except one thing: He was a politician now.
That’s what made him bankable. He was still an unaccomplished man. He hadn’t written a book, or started a business, or led a project, or really done anything other than say he was going to Parliament.
And even when he was elected to Parliament on
Oct. 14, 2008, he didn’t stop selling his time to the highest bidder.
In fact, he raised his rates.
Three weeks after his election win, he gave a talk to Rogers Media, one of the biggest companies in Canada, and one of the most highly regulated by the federal government — and charged them a cool $20,000. That became his new standard fee.
Trudeau became his party’s critic for youth and post-secondary education. He sat on parliamentary committees that dealt with universities and schools.
Yet, during that time, he continued to bill universities tens of thousands of dollars for the pleasure of his company. Since he entered politics, he billed universities and colleges $77,000 to meet with them. And in return, Trudeau was lobbied five times from universities, including those he had invoiced. (Opposition MPs have only had to disclose their meetings since 2010, so there may be more.)
Universities are rich. High schools and elementary schools are not. But since starting his Liberal career, Trudeau has billed schools $205,000 for speeches.
It’s not just a conflict of interest. It’s an intolerable burden on schools, that scrape together his speaking fee from money that should be going to textbooks or extracurricular activities.
Once word got out that Trudeau the politician was for sale by the hour, other industries lined up, too. Banks. Industry lobby groups. Economic development corporations. They ponied up $311,000 to Trudeau after his political career started.
Altogether, Justin Trudeau raked in $966,500 from private clients after he pressed start on his political career.
Some of his speaking clients, like the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, paid him $20,000 for one speech in 2010. It’s illegal for unions (and corporations) to give a dime to Trudeau’s political campaign. They just gave it to him personally, and called it a “speaking fee.”
Trudeau doesn’t need the money. He inherited millions in real estate and stocks from his father — plus a 1957 Mercedes Roadster worth approximately a million dollars.
So why did he do it?
Why did he routinely skip important parliamentary debates — including the Liberal party’s own motions — to grab $10,000 or $20,000 for his own wallet? Why did his parliamentary staff tell citizens calling them inviting Trudeau to speak, to contact his personal business agent, who then quoted a $20,000 fee?Why? Because no one in Trudeau’s life has ever told him no — not his father who spoiled him, not the schoolgirl crowds who cheer him, not the Media Party that has crowned him, and not the Liberal party that will soon be owned by him