The Danube Institute, a Budapest-based think tank run by the same Batthyány Lajos Foundation as this very website, Hungarian Conservative, has become a topic of discussion in the House of Commons of Canada. Liberal Party MP Mark Gerretsen spoke up recently and inquired about a trip his colleague, John Williamson made to London in the summer of 2023, which was funded by the Danube Institute.
The caption of the video of MP Gerretsen’s speech before the House reads ‘Conservative MPs have been travelling on the dime of a right-wing Hungarian think tank that promotes wild conspiracy theories’.
First of all,
describing legitimate analyses of the Russo–Ukrainian war published by the Danube Institute is absurd in itself.
But what Mr Gerretsen claimed is also factually wrong: to begin with, it contradicts both the reporting by the Canadian public broadcaster CBC’s website and the speech itself, as both make the claim that it was only MP Williamson’s travel to the UK capital that was funded by the Danube Institute. The other four conservative Members of Parliament had their travelling expenses covered by the advocacy group Canadians for Affordable Energy, according to Canadian press reports.
even the claim of a single Canadian MP’s travel expenses being paid for by the Danube Institute is incorrect, as the the expenses for MP Williamson’s travel were not covered by the organization.
MP Gerresten gets yet another fact wrong in his short, under-one-minute speech before the House. The quote he cites is not from any academic work produced by the Danube Institute. The Budapest-based think tank too only referenced that quote, which was originally written by Dutch politician Thierry Baudet.
John Williamson spoke at an event held by the Institute on 26 June 2023 in London, United Kingdom, titled The Present and Future of Conservatism — Our Recovering Conservatism. Other speakers included Former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and former Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša.
In his speech, MP Gerretsen went on to insinuate that this trip is the reason why a faction of the Conservative Party caucus in parliament decided to block the modernized Canada–Ukraine Free Trade Agreement (CUFTA). In reality, the objections by the Conservative Party and its leader Pierre Poilievre to the new trade deal are reasonable: they oppose the ‘carbon pricing’ portions of the deal which would add additional taxes on fossil fuels in the name of fighting climate change. This measure could significantly increase energy prices for the population.
The Liberal narrative, however, is that the Conservatives of Canada are opposing the new deal with Ukraine because they wish to aid the Russian war effort, and they were paid to do so by an allegedly Kremlin-friendly Hungarian government through the Danube Institute.
Now that is a wild ‘conspiracy theory,’ to borrow an overused term from the leftist mainstream media.
They would need to find any sort of communication on the subject between Danube Institute staff and MP Williamson’s staff to prove it—of which none exists. MP Williamson was one of the hundreds of guest speakers the Institute hosted in the past, which include many other high-ranking people from the world of politics and academia.
In addition, please note that the combined cost of the five Canadian conservative politicians’ June 2023 trip to London was $6,262, as reported by CBC. Meanwhile, the annual salary for a Member of the House of Commons of Canada is $194,600.
It is highly unlikely that around $1,250, which was the per capita spending on the trip by the five MPs, would be sufficient an incentive
to have any politician in a developed country change their stance.
Meanwhile, the Trudeau Foundation was involved in a controversy in April of this year for receiving a $140,000 donation from a Chinese businessman. The foundation is named after Former Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, father of current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The younger Trudeau was also involved in the leadership of the organization until 2013. Multiple high-dollar donors of Trudeau’s and other Liberal candidates have been connected to the Chinese Communist Party as well, as reported by Business in Vancouver.