Prime minister's mother spoke at event hosted by organization that received federal funding for jobs program

An organization that received $5.8 million from the federal government to help job seekers from under-represented communities is refusing to say if it paid the prime minister’s mother, Margaret Trudeau, to speak at an event it held this month.

She appeared in Elevate.ca’s Think2030 series, on October 14, to speak about mental health and the effects of the pandemic.

Elevate is a Toronto-based not-for-profit that says its mission is “to unite Canada’s innovators to solve society’s greatest challenges.”

It currently lobbies the federal government for funding through FedDev Ontario, a federal regional economic development agency.

As recently as 2019, Elevate was also registered to lobby the Prime Minister’s Office for funding for one of its events, Elevate Tech Fest.

In June, the federal economic development agency for Ontario announced it would provide the funding for the organization’s Elevate Talent program, intended to help people from marginalized groups find jobs in the tech and creative sectors.

The organization would not say how much, if anything, it paid Margaret Trudeau to participate in the symposium but denied there was a relationship between the event and the government funding.

“Elevate did not receive any federal funding whatsoever for its event Think 2030,” Elevate general manager Lisa Zarzeczny said in an email.

Margaret Trudeau did not respond to a request for comment by email and, when reached by phone, said she didn’t have time to speak and hung up.

The Prime Minister’s Office said the funding was for a program that “aims to reskill 5,300 job seekers from underrepresented communities, including Black, Indigenous, People of Colour, 2SLGBTQ+, and francophone professionals in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area and match them with job openings in technology and innovation-based organizations, start-ups and the creative industries.”

The City of Toronto provided an additional $350,000 for the program..

Speaker’s Spotlight, the agency that books professional speakers, describes Margaret Trudeau as an “respected mental-health issues advocate” and lists her among those with fees in the $15,000 to $20,000 per event range.

Other speakers in the Think2030 series included astronaut Chris Hadfield, singer Jully Black and primatologist Jane Goodall.

Trudeau appeared on a sound stage before a small audience and spoke for about 22 minutes about her own mental health history, then did an on-stage interview with Chloe Wilde, a reporter with CTV’s eTalk Daily, about the effects of self-isolation during the COVID crisis.

Toronto news channel CP24, which is owned by Bell Media, was listed as one of the sponsors of the event.

Past payments to Margaret Trudeau and other Trudeau family members by WE Charity were the subject of an investigation by the federal ethics commissioner, who found that, in the circumstances of that case, there was no contravention of the Conflict of Interest Act.