How did the PMO get involved in the matter of Justin Trudeau and the Grace Foundation?

How to build a scandal

Not until I read Sunday’s dispatch from the Canadian Press did I realize that the Prime Minister’s Office had been distributing the letter the Grace Foundation sent to Justin Trudeau in March, but this much was noted in reports on Friday.

According to the Prime Minister’s Office, the matter was first brought to the attention of Conservative MPs Rob Moore and Rodney Weston.

The Grace Foundation appealed to their Saint John area MPs Rob Moore & Rodney Weston for assistance, after four months of silence from Justin Trudeau. That’s how the local media and our office received the letter.

“Four months” is not quite an accurate measure. The Grace Foundation wrote to Mr. Trudeau on March 6. According to Mr. Moore, Judith Baxter, the vice chair of the Grace Foundation, contacted him sometime in May about Mr. Trudeau’s speech. He was then faxed a copy of the letter last Wednesday.

As Kady O’Malley notes, Ms. Baxter was appointed by Josee Verner to the board of trustees of the Museum of Civilization in 2007 and reappointed in 2011. Her husband, Glen Baxter, is a member of the board of directors of the Conservative riding association in Fundy Royal, Mr. Moore’s riding. My attempts to contact Ms. Baxter have so far been unsuccessful.

As Mr. Moore noted in an interview with me yesterday, if the Grace Foundation was rife with Conservatives it probably wouldn’t have booked Mr. Trudeau in the first place.

I’ve asked both Mr. Moore’s office and Mr. Trudeau’s office whether Mr. Moore reached out to Mr. Trudeau directly, but have yet to hear back from either.

CTV reported last night that the Prime Minister’s Office was distributing more documents related to Mr. Trudeau’s speeches yesterday and Susan Delacourt reports that the Star was among the recipients. The Barrie Advance was contacted by the PMO on Monday with documents related to a speech Mr. Trudeau gave in 2006.

Update 10:18am. Mr. Trudeau’s office says it has no record of contact from Mr. Moore or any other Conservative MP on this issue.

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