By: Greg Staley
Written On: 2021-07-14
Perhaps you’ve heard our Prime Minister say that he has placed his assets in a blind trust, that sounds great – but what is a blind trust and how does it work? Does this take away potential conflicts of interest or just make it more difficult to discover where a potential conflict may lie?
In 2013 the Ottawa Citizen’s Glen McGregor wrote that the Prime Minister is “likely invested in oilsands companies but he isn’t certain.” You see the Prime Minister would like Canadians to believe that “while he is aware of the approximate value of his holdings, he pays no attention to which stocks he owns through the company.” The Prime Minister wants Canadians to believe he never once cared to discover what companies his assets were held in – I personally find this laughable. You’re telling me if your family hands you over some major investments you wouldn’t have even a bit of curiosity to find out what those investments were?
The concern I have in regards to the Prime Ministers’ statements in 2013 to the Ottawa Citizen is that he admitted that he is likely invested in oilsands companies. Now when we factor in that we’ve seen pipelines fail to get built and that this has largely been brought on by Trudeau’s lack of political willpower to complete Keystone XL – we begin to question why. The fact that his assets have been placed in a blind trust in this case only brings more questions – not less. What oil assets does the Prime Minister hold and how could this potentially affect his decision making in regards to Canada’s energy portfolio?
Essentially, the way the blind trust works is that as long as the Prime Minister does not “provide any advice, instructions or direction, nor participate in any discussion or decision-making processes in respect of the management, disposition or investment of any controlled assets” he is essentially free and clear. So as long as someone else is managing the money and he can’t see how the funds are being managed – it’s ok. However, this doesn’t stop the person who placed the assets into a blind trust (The Prime Minister) from telling the person who will be the trustee of the funds their personal preferences for their investments before they entrust the money. All this does is prevent them from actively managing their financial portfolio after the placement in the trust is complete. After you’re done in-office though you can again have access to that money.
As the CBC wrote in 2019, “blind trusts are used across Canada and are “pretty effective” but do have shortcomings: for example, they can be good at shielding a politician from knowing what’s in their stock portfolio, but a cabinet minister won’t “forget” about a business they own just because it’s under a blind trust.” The good news is the Prime Minister won’t forget about his businesses because he wants us to believe he never cared to know what those businesses were anyway! Good grief but I digress.
Although the information about these potential conflicts has been disclosed to the public through the Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner (OCIEC) most Canadians don’t know how to find this information. In order to have a society that improves upon the foundations it has built, we must hold our public representatives accountable. Accountability is something that you do for somebody – not something you do to them.
How can we have accountability in Canada when Canadians aren’t educated on the publicly available tools that help to ensure that happens? Another issue is visibility. Why isn’t it required that politicians post their reports from the OCIEC to their constituency page so that people in their riding are aware? These are simple things that can be implemented to start bringing accountability to our public officials.
One instance that comes to mind when thinking about the need for increased transparency is our Deputy Prime Minister. Did you know that Chrystia Freeland, the Deputy Prime Minister of Canada publicly listed that she is a “Member of the Board of Trustees of the World Economic Forum” – you know the Great Reset people. I’m sure her belonging to the WEF as a member of the Board of Trustees does not influence her ability to perform her work impartially on behalf of Canadians though (intense sarcasm).
At the end of the day, I feel like an old man trapped in a young man’s body. I’m yelling at the walls here! Canadians can’t seem to hold their public officials accountable these days. How many ethics violations is that now Prime Minister Trudeau? Canadians need to be adamant about holding our politicians accountable and that starts by being aware of their actions and monitoring their decision-making with that knowledge in mind. I know many are just trying to live their lives and don’t want to be “bothered with politics.” The issue is, if you don’t bother with politics – politics starts to bother you. It already has and I’ll prove it by using one word – Covid.
Diverge Media is an independent Canadian media company dedicated to bringing you the stories that matter. We have reached out to the PMO office, Glen McGregor (Wrote the Ottawa Citizen article) and the Ottawa Citizen themselves to clarify some points made in this article but have not received a response as of yet. To support Diverge Media please consider purchasing some swag below or leave a donation – all the best, Diverge Media.
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