Bloc Quebecois leader Yves-Francois Blanchet is calling out significant donations from persons of Chinese origin given to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s riding association in 2016, which came when the Liberal government was authorizing a new charter bank called Wealth One catering to Chinese Canadians. 

This comes amid the Liberals being under increased pressure to call an independent inquiry into election interference from China. 

“In just two days, the Prime Minister’s riding received $70,000 from donors of Chinese origin, and at the same time, the government authorized the establishment of a Chinese bank in Canada,” said Blanchet.

According to Le Journal De Montreal, 83% of donations to the Papineau Liberal EDA in 2016 came from outside of Quebec. Two thirds came from around fifty donors of Chinese origin, and were given in the spawn of 48 hours.

The Vancouver and Toronto-based donors gave donations ranging from $1382.41 to $1500 between Jul. 6 and Jul. 7 2016, for a total of $67,080. Wealth One was given the authorization to operate in Canada in July of that year.

A pie chart showing donations to the Papineau Liberal EDA in 2016. 17% of donations were made by people in Quebec, while 83% were made by people outside the province. Source: Bloc MP Monique Pauzé (2019)

Bloc MP Monique Pauze questioned the timing of the donations back in 2017, saying in a statement that “with coincidences like that, you should buy a 6/49 (lottery ticket)!” 

With Chinese interference being in the news amid reports Beijing interfered with Canada’s elections with aims to re-elect Trudeau’s Liberals, the Bloc is again questioning the donations.

Blanchet has called for an independent investigation into election interference and says the investigation should also take a look at the money given to the Papineau EDA. “Justin Trudeau can’t just call everyone a racist and must agree to a public and truly independent inquiry,” said Blanchet.

When pressed for comment, Liberal Party of Canada spokesperson Mateo Rossi told Le Journal that “all grassroots fundraising activities organized by the Liberal Party of Canada fully comply with Elections Canada’s strict rules.”

Le Journal says a large portion of donations given to the Papineau EDA came after Trudeau held a fundraiser in Richmond, British Columbia. 

The Prime Minister also attended a Toronto cash-for-access fundraiser in May of that year organized by a Chinese millionaire, which was also attended by Wealth One founder Shenglin Xian.

The Canadian government has since cited national security concerns with Wealth One amid suspected ties between its founders and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), as reported by The Globe and Mail.

According to sources, principal Wealth One shareholders have been under investigation, including by CSIS. The bank was fined $676,500 by FINTRAC in Feb. 2023 “for non-compliance with Part 1 of the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act and its associated Regulations.”

Sources say finance minister Chrystia Freeland expressed concerns in a letter that Xian, as well as shareholders Mao Hua (Morris) Chen Yuansheng Ou Yang, “could be vulnerable to coercion” from China. 

The three men have since resigned from their positions.

Wealth One CFO Barry Ferguson told the Globe “we are not in a position to speak to any specific communications we may have with any regulatory authority but can confirm that the three shareholders you asked about are no longer directors of the bank and none of our shareholders have ever had a role in the bank’s operations.” 

“We are a Canadian bank, with an independent board of directors and an executive leadership team of banking professionals who have extensive experience in operations under the Canadian banking regulatory framework, and who are fully aware of the need for the highest standards of integrity and regulatory compliance.”

Trudeau stopped short of calling an inquiry into foreign election interference last week,  opting to instead appoint a “Special Rapporteur” to take into the matter. Liberals have also been filibustering in committee to prevent Trudeau’s Chief of Staff, Katie Telford, from being called to testify.