National Newswatch

Justin Trudeau says he is happy to work with the federal ethics commissioner over controversial Liberal fundraising tactics. The prime minister continued to field questions Thursday over so-called "cash-for-access" events. Video provided by The Canadian Press

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he has no problem with answering questions from ethics commissioner Mary Dawson about his party's controversial fundraising tactics.

Trudeau has been under fire in the Commons for weeks over a series of private, $1,500-a-ticket Liberal party fundraisers with well-heeled donors.

Interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose has said the so-called "cash-for-access" practice smacks of corruption and asked Dawson to investigate.

A Globe and Mail report said Dawson agreed to question Trudeau on the issue to determine whether a more comprehensive investigation is warranted.

A spokeswoman for Dawson's office would not confirm the report Thursday.

Trudeau has been pilloried in question period by the opposition because of a list of rules he handed out to his cabinet on taking office, warning ministers away from offering preferential access or even creating the perception of such access for party donors. However, with the Commons adjourned to the end of January, that public pressure has eased for the moment.

Trudeau told a news conference Thursday he wants to retain public confidence and maintain high ethical standards.

"We will always work with the ethics commissioner and anyone else who has questions of this government," he said.

"I look forward to making sure we provide answers to anyone who is asking us questions about particular aspects of this government's functioning, as is responsible for our various commissioners and officials to do."

He said part of his government's commitment is to respect rules and laws.

"That is something we have consistently done and will consistently do," he said. "We have very strict rules on fundraising at the federal level and no one is suggesting we are not following those rules."

NDP ethics critic Alexandre Boulerice welcomed the news that Dawson will look into the matter.

"For us, it's a demonstration it's a serious issue, that Mr. Trudeau and the Liberal party are in trouble, they have a problem with that," he said in an interview.

Boulerice said he and his party want to see a full report on the discussion between Trudeau and Dawson.

"We hope it will not be ... a flash in the pan with no tomorrow."

The Canadian Press

The Canadian Press
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