We’ve talked about Liberals scheduling fundraisers for Cabinet Ministers across the country, then finding a reason for the Minister to do some business there. It seems fundraising is the most important job for this new government and they have no problem getting Ministers to travel the country collecting cheques for the Liberal Party, while taxpayers pick up the travel tab.
But now there is more.
If you’ve been paying attention, then you know that fundraisers where high end donors get to have face time with powerful Ministers in Justin Trudeau’s cabinet has dominated headlines and questions in the House of Commons for days now.
It’s kind of a repeat of what Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals did in Ontario and the opposition parties have been hammering the Liberals over events like Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s appearance at a fundraiser hosted at a Halifax mansion and attended by corporate executives that could benefit from Morneau’s spending.
The Liberal response to this is interesting.
First they pointed out that Minister Morneau was on a budget consultation tour at the time of the fundraiser last week. Not a great response considering that as he's doing budget consultations, he’s meeting executives donating $1,500 a pop to hang out with him, business executives that could benefit from actions taken in the budget, some spending here, a special tax break there.
Then came the other response, that the Liberals were not hiding this because according to their House leader Bardish Chagger, it was all open.
“This event was open, and anyone who purchased a ticket was welcome to attend. The event was made public online,” Chagger said.
Morneau also claimed no wrong-doing when I asked him later that afternoon. But, not really.
One thing that has left political watchers puzzled, until now, is why the Halifax fundraiser for Morneau along with similar events in Toronto and Calgary did not appear on the Liberal Party website where events such as fundraisers normally appear.
It turns out that the Liberals have been using a simple piece of coding on their website to block certain fundraisers from being seen by the general public or found by search engines like Google.
The Liberals have been using a Robots.txt file. Nothing wrong with that, web designers use them all the time to make sure that when you go searching for their website that you can find their website but back end pages are hidden.
But as we look at the Robots.txt file the Liberals are using we see they are not only hiding back end stuff but also several fundraisers for Morneau and International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland.
That flies in the face of what Liberal House Leader Bardish Chagger said in the Commons.
This is not open, this is hidden, on purpose, you have to purposely put that in.
The Liberals maintain they have broken no laws or rules on fundraising, a party spokesman even saying via email it would be wrong to call the events hidden even though the public cannot see any information about them.
Spokesperson Braeden Caley said information such as the home of a host must be protected. He also said volunteers often input these events, but a volunteer in a riding association is not getting access to this file, they can’t make these kinds of changes to the website.
As for protecting an address, you can do that without hiding the whole event.
The Liberals have been hiding these because they knew they would look bad.
An editorial in the Globe and Mail on Thursday compared Trudeau’s fundraising practices to those of Ontario Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne, an apt comparison and not surprising when you remember all the Queen’s Park Liberals around Justin Trudeau.
The new government of real change is really all about the same old dirty tricks.