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Trudeau Senate Pick Donated Over $76K to Liberal Party

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When Prime Minister Trudeau appointed a wealthy businessman to the Senate last week, he lauded the new “independent” member. But records reveal Trudeau omitted a dark secret – this senator’s history of generous Liberal donations.

The controversial appointment completely undermines Trudeau’s 2015 pledge to reform the Senate and end partisan patronage. 

By appointing this loyal donor as an “independent,” Trudeau exposes his phony commitment to transparency. Worse still, the PMO’s meddling in appointments now extends into the judiciary, where Trudeau’s delays have brought the justice system to its knees. 

Conservatives are demanding investigation, only to be stifled by Trudeau’s loyalists. 

From Parliament to the courts, Trudeau’s appointments reek of opportunism triumphing over democratic principle. 

With institutions in crisis, Canadians must ask – whose interests does Trudeau truly serve?

Trudeau appoints “independent” senator who has donated $76K to Liberals.

When Justin Trudeau became Prime Minister in 2015, one of his central campaign promises was to reform the Senate to make it more independent and less partisan. 

He vowed to overhaul the appointment process so that senators would be selected based on merit rather than political allegiance. By appointing independent senators, Trudeau claimed he would reduce partisanship and patronage in the Upper Chamber. 

However, Trudeau’s latest Senate appointment calls this promise into serious question. 

On Sunday, Trudeau announced the appointment of Toronto businessman Mohammad Al Zaibak as an “independent senator.” 

Yet Elections Canada records paint a far different picture of Al Zaibak’s supposed non-partisanship. They reveal that he has donated an astonishing $76,000 to the Liberal Party of Canada since 2005. This includes a whopping 145 separate donations over the years, demonstrating deep and consistent support for the Liberal Party and its leaders.

The size of some donations is also concerning. In 2005, Al Zaibak made a single $3,100 contribution, far exceeding the legal limit for an individual donation. His financial support continued through subsequent Liberal leaders like Stephane Dion, Michael Ignatieff, and Justin Trudeau. Just last September, a donation of $141 was made under Al Zaibak’s name to Trudeau’s Liberal Party.

This lengthy history of generous giving totally undercuts any pretense of Al Zaibak being non-partisan. Over more than 15 years, he has funneled tens of thousands of dollars to the Liberal Party’s coffers. This degree of financial support for one political party cannot be squared with any credible claim of independence from partisan interests.

Clearly, Al Zaibak has very close ties to the Liberal Party spanning his decades as a donor. His recent appointment only throws gasoline on the fire regarding perceptions of partisanship in Senate appointments under Trudeau. Far from being an independent, Al Zaibak’s partisan pedigree could not be more clear based on Elections Canada’s donation records.

By appointing a major Liberal Party donor as an “independent,” Trudeau is being highly misleading.

This casts major doubt on his sincerity when it comes to reforming the Senate. If Trudeau was serious about reducing partisanship, he would appoint senators with no history of generous donations or other affiliation with the Liberal Party. 

The fact that Al Zaibak’s extensive contributions were ignored entirely in the announcement of his appointment shows a complete lack of transparency regarding his partisan background.

This follows a worrying pattern under Trudeau’s leadership. A review of recent Senate appointments reveals that a significant number have concerning connections to the Liberal Party. 

Out of eight appointments in 2021, five were found to have made substantial donations to the Liberals, two were former Liberal candidates, and one was a former director of the Trudeau Foundation. 

Rather than making the Senate more independent, these appointments only further the perception that it is a partisan institution filled with Liberal loyalists. 

By repeatedly appointing donors and insiders, Trudeau has betrayed the spirit of his promise to Canadians. His claim to be reducing partisanship in the Senate now rings hollow.

Meaningful reform requires that the Senate become a genuinely non-partisan body filled by merit-based appointments. But by appointing partisan figures like Al Zaibak, Trudeau actively undermines this crucial goal. He pays lip service to Senate reform while continuing the longstanding practice of patronage to loyal partisans.  

Canadians should be deeply concerned that under Trudeau, the Senate remains a partisan extension of the governing Liberal Party. The Upper Chamber was meant to provide sober second thought and regional representation outside partisan politics. But Trudeau has shown no qualms about appointing loyal Liberal allies in order to further his political agenda.  

Rather than embodying the promised reforms, these partisan appointments make the Senate appear a bastion of Liberal insiders. They will vote reliably with the government while providing a veneer of independence. This damages the Senate’s credibility and perceived legitimacy at a time when non-partisanship is needed more than ever.

In 2015, Trudeau asked Canadians to trust him when he pledged real reform. But it is now clear he is breaking that promise. 

By appointing Liberal donor Al Zaibak and others like him, Trudeau reveals his Senate reform to be nothing but empty rhetoric. 

Canadians deserve better than this cynical deception when it comes to the composition of our key democratic institutions. The Senate has an important role to provide regional representation and diligent review of legislation. It cannot properly fulfill this role if stacked with loyal government partisans under the guise of independence.

Trudeau must renew his commitment to merit-based appointments if he wants to restore confidence in the Senate. The body’s reputation has been damaged by years of patronage appointments by both Liberal and Conservative governments. Only sincerity and non-partisanship can rebuild its standing now.

The Al Zaibak appointment is a troubling indication that business-as-usual partisanship remains Trudeau’s approach. But there is still time for him to change course and truly deliver the Senate reform he promised Canadians. Appointments should be transparent and focused on qualifications, not Liberal Party pedigree. 

Trudeau’s concerning record of partisan appointments extends beyond just the Senate – it also applies to his appointments of judges to the federal bench. Despite a major backlog and shortage of judges that is slowing down the justice system, Trudeau has been accused of dragging his feet on appointments for political reasons.

In 2023, former Supreme Court Chief Justice Richard Wagner took the extraordinary step of directly appealing to Prime Minister Trudeau over his government’s failure to appoint judges in a timely manner. Wagner sent a letter to Trudeau expressing “great concern” about the severe shortage of judges across the country. He warned the Prime Minister that the lack of appointments was allowing some alleged criminals to evade trial due to excessive delays.

Remarkably, Trudeau’s own Justice Minister David Lametti responded by pinning responsibility for appointment delays squarely on the Prime Minister’s Office. This mirrored complaints from the Senate that the opaque PMO approval process was hampering supposedly non-partisan appointments. It reinforced perceptions of political interference and patronage under Trudeau.

Chief Justice Wagner revealed he had spoken directly to Trudeau about the crisis, but the government still dragged its feet for months afterwards. The lack of transparency surrounding appointments left many concerned that partisanship was being prioritized over the needs of the justice system. With the judiciary in disarray, Trudeau failed to match his rhetoric about improving appointments with meaningful action.

This mirrors the lack of transparency and partisanship seen in Trudeau’s Senate picks. Judicial appointments are supposed to be impartial and merit-based, just as the Senate is meant to be non-partisan. But under Trudeau, partisan political meddling seems to be undermining both processes.

When the Conservatives called for the Justice Committee to investigate why Trudeau is delaying these critical judicial appointments, both Liberal and NDP members voted it down. They did not even want to examine if the PMO’s interference is creating a backlog in the justice system and undermining Canadians’ Charter rights to a timely trial.

Once again, this smacks of a cover-up designed to shield Trudeau’s office from scrutiny. The opposition simply wants to understand why appointments are taking so long when the justice system is in crisis. Yet the Liberals and NDP voted as a coalition to kill this reasonable request for transparency and accountability.

Canadians deserve to know if Trudeau is placing partisan interests ahead of the functioning of our courts. Lives are impacted by trial delays and constitutional rights infringed. The committee had a duty to investigate the PMO’s role in appointment delays. Instead, they chose a cover up while the justice system continues to suffer.

This is just the latest indication that Trudeau’s lofty rhetoric about non-partisanship does not match his actions. From the Senate to the judiciary and beyond, his appointments keep raising concerns of political interference and Liberal partisanship taking precedence over merit. Trudeau cannot keep claiming to champion non-partisanship while evidence mounts to the contrary.

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