Canada Politics

Trudeau speaking engagement story fizzles as charity rescinds request for refund

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Liberal leader Justin Trudeau (file photo)

Zero, zilch, zippo, and nada.

That's how many charities have taken Justin Trudeau up on his offer to repay speaking fees he received while he was a member of Parliament.

And now, according to Postmedia News, the Grace Foundation — the senior's charity who spurred the controversy when they leaked a letter asking for their money back — has actually rescinded their request and have distanced themselves from some of their rabble- rowsing directors.

Trudeau spokeswoman Kate Monfette said the Liberal leader’s office was in recent contact with [Foundation chairman Ian] Webster “and he informed us that they will not be requesting a reimbursement.”

“They consider this matter closed,” Monfette added.

The foundation’s website on Monday showed five of the organization’s 10 board members no longer listed.

The Trudeau-speaking event story reached a frenzy stage, last month, when it was learned that the Prime Minister's Office was secretly trying to advance it.

In June, a letter from the Grace Foundation surfaced asking Trudeau for a refund because they lost over $20,000 on their Trudeau-speaking event in 2012. It didn't take long, however, for the Twitterverse to discover that members of the Grace Foundation had ties to the Conservative party and particularly the PMO.

Later in the month, journalist Laurie Watt of the Barrie Advance, revealed that she had received an email from the PMO pushing a story about a failed Trudeau-event at the Georgian College.

[ Related: Justin Trudeau vows to 'make things right' with charities, evokes memory of his father on Father’s Day ]

The fact that none of the charities actually want their money back has some suggesting that the Conservatives have some egg on their face.

"Nice ending to an affair that I always found rather suspicious," Liberal insider and Sun News personality Warren Kinsella wrote on his website.

"Will assorted Conservative (and conservative) critics now apologize to Trudeau for their attacks on him? Of course not."

[ Related: Justin Trudeau and his family visit Kokanee Glacier Park, site of brother’s passing ]

Maclean's Paul Wells took to Twitter with his analysis:

Political consultant Gerry Nicholls suggests that the lesson here is that the Conservatives need to be careful with their attacks.

"I think [the Conservatives] like to be aggressive. Sometimes they can be overly aggressive," he told Yahoo! Canada News in a telephone interview.

"And they have to be careful, because sometimes if you're too aggressive it can wind up bringing sympathy for the person that you're attacking. It's often better to let third parties to do [the attacking], than do it themselves."

In this case, their aggressiveness may have backfired.

(Photo courtesy of the Canadian Press)

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