Trudeau’s Lead on Legalizing Marijuana Lobbied During Cash-For-Access Fundraiser

Article by Robert Fife and Steven Chase, The Globe and Mail

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s point person on legalizing recreational pot was the prize guest at a Liberal Party fundraiser attended by a marijuana lobbying group at a Toronto law office that advises clients in the cannabis business.

The event last spring, which featured Bill Blair, the parliamentary secretary to the Justice Minister, appears to violate Liberal Party rules on political fundraisers and Mr. Trudeau’s ethics guidelines that direct cabinet ministers and parliamentary secretaries to avoid an “appearance of preferential access.”

The Liberal Party told The Globe and Mail on Monday night it will refund donations from representatives of the Cannabis Friendly Business Association (CFBA), although it denied any ethical breaches.

“While the lobbying code is clear that such individuals may be able to attend grassroots fundraisers, these contributions are now in the process of being returned to avoid any appearance of conflict of interest,” Liberal Party spokesman Braeden Caley said in an e-mail.

“The individuals associated with the organization you reference appear to have only registered with the lobbying commissioner on or after the date of the event itself, and therefore the party would not have been aware in advance of their activities.”

Mr. Blair addressed the fundraiser at the law offices of Aird & Berlis LLP on April 28 – two months after Mr. Trudeau named him to work with a task force on new marijuana laws.

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