British Columbia

Trudeau continues B.C. tour with fundraiser

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau continued his tour of B.C. with a fundraiser at a sold out even in downtown Vancouver.

PM applauds local members for signing up 7,000 newcomers since last summer

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during a Liberal Party fundraiser at a hotel in Vancouver, B.C., on Thursday May 18, 2017. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau continued his tour of British Columbia with a fundraiser Thursday at a sold out event in downtown Vancouver's Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre. 

Trudeau applauded local members for signing up 7,000 newcomers since last summer.

He called on his supporters to keep working hard as he warned about the momentum that upcoming leadership races could give the party's rivals.

"We've got competition. The Conservatives are electing a new leader next weekend. The NDP will do the same later this year. And history has shown that these things matter," Trudeau said, speaking to a room of a couple of hundred people.

Outside the venue, protesters carried signs calling for an end to Kinder Morgan's proposed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, whose terminus is in Burnaby, B.C., and to the Site C hydroelectric megaproject in the province's north.

Protesters opposed to the Site C Dam project and the expansion of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline demonstrate outside the fundraiser. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)

Cash for access

This is the prime minister's first fundraiser in Vancouver since the party put the new rules in place for high-priced fundraising events.

"For Liberal fundraising events that include ministers or a party leader as the special guest, Canadians are now able to view upcoming events posted at least three days in advance, and access event reports and lists of guests no more than 45 days after each event," the Liberal party states on its website.

Some believe the practice of so-called cash-for-access fundraisers needs to be curtailed even further.

"As long as the events have a ticket price that an average voter can't afford, then the prime minister is selling access to himself ... doing it in undemocratic and unethical way," said Duff Conacher, founder of the Ottawa-based advocacy group Democracy Watch.

Unsurprisingly, those who paid between $90 and $750 to attend the event approved of the policy.

"if you go to any other party event, there's going to be a fee," said Pargat Singh Bhurji.

"Every party has an agenda because we live in a democracy."

Trudeau's time on the West Coast continues on Friday with events in Surrey and Abbotsford.  

With files from Brenna Rose and The Canadian Press