LILLEY: Would anyone notice if the Trudeau Foundation disappeared?

The Trudeau Foundation was given plenty of taxpayer money but what has it done for Canada? Very little.

If the Trudeau Foundation ceased to exist, would Canadians notice? It’s a question worth asking as the entire board of directors, including Justin Trudeau’s sister, resigned alongside their president and CEO on Tuesday morning.

A statement from the foundation said the political pressure of recent weeks had become too much.

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Those circumstances would be the questions about the foundation’s decision in 2016 to accept a donation from sources that have since been linked to China’s attempt to influence Canadian policy and the Canadian government. A $200,000 donation from Chinese businessman Zhang Bin in 2016 has been the focus of questions alongside the broader story of China’s election interference attempts.

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It’s all very cozy at the Trudeau Foundation and it’s interesting the connections back to the organization as we look into the matter of China’s election interference. An attempt to offer donations to gain favour, a former president then giving the last election a clean bill of health, and a senior person at the foundation being asked to investigate new allegations.

Before the foundation got in the news due to headlines about these issues, most Canadians wouldn’t know that the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation existed, and they wouldn’t shed a tear at its demise.

Certainly the academics, journalists and politicians who have received grants and awards from the foundation would notice but the average Canadian wouldn’t notice if it just went away.

Which it should.

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The Trudeau Foundation was created in 2002 by the Liberal government of the day with a $125-million endowment. The goal was to create a program to rival the Rhodes Scholars program and, after 21 years, I’m not sure they can claim success on that front.

There are surely some worthy academics who have received rewards but much of it is the same banal material academics produce elsewhere. For a program that was launched as part of the Chretien government’s innovation strategy, this is a program that delivers more of the same academic work we see elsewhere.

Excellence does not appear to be in the Trudeau Foundation’s DNA.

So as the foundation considers what to do with itself in the wake of a political scandal, perhaps the board should consider closing up shop and handing all that money back to the taxpayers.

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