Poilievre personally holds investment in Bitcoin as he promotes crypto to Canadians
Conservative Party leadership candidate Pierre Poilievre has a personal financial interest in cryptocurrencies that he has promoted during his campaign as a hedge against inflation.
The Ottawa-area MP’s assets include units of Purpose Bitcoin, a Canadian-based, exchange-traded fund that holds cryptocurrencies, according to his May 4 disclosure to the federal ethics commissioner.
Poilievre’s campaign denied encouraging investment in crypto puts him in a conflict of interest.
"Mr. Poilievre spoke with the Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner prior to publicly commenting on Bitcoin and Bitcoin related policies,” his spokesperson Anthony Koch said in an email.
“The Office cleared him to do so without issue.”
The campaign provided an email from the Office of the Ethics Commissioner from November that said the interest in Bitcoin “does not prevent you from commenting on cryptocurrencies in general, participating in debates and vote on public policies related to the regulation of cryptocurrencies.”
The commissioner’s office also said Poilievre was free to host conversations with other MPs “on this subject matter as any policies or regulations would apply to you as one of a broad class.”
Poilievre has proposed barring the Bank of Canada from developing its own digital currency and said Canadians should be free to use alternative currencies for payments.
“We need sound money again—and also the freedom for buyers and sellers to choose #bitcoin and other technology,” he tweeted on April 1.
In March, he held an event at a London, Ont., restaurant and paid for a shawarma using Bitcoin. And at an event in April in BC, he made a Bitcoin donation to the BC SPCA, accompanied by a dog wearing a Bitcoin logo.
“A Poilievre government would welcome this new, decentralized, bottom-up economy and allow people to take control of their money from bankers and politicians,” his campaign said in a press release.
Since then, the value of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies has plunged, exposing Poilievre to criticism from opponents who say encouraging Canadians to invest in something so volatile is reckless.
The value of the Purpose Bitcoin ETF has fallen nearly 40 per cent over the past six months.
The Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons requires MPs to report assets and liabilities in excess of $10,000. But it does not require them to reveal the value of their assets or when they were acquired.
Poilievre’s campaign said his holdings in Bitcoin were right around the disclosure threshold.
In his disclosure, Poilievre also reported holding exchange-traded funds based on the stock indexes of Singapore and Switzerland. His campaign said he was required under the conflict-of-interest Code to publicly disclose these ETFs, but not his holdings in a Canadian stock index fund.
“Mr. Poilievre's largest investment by far is in Canadian Index Fund that tracks the TSX,” the campaign said.
The co-founder of ethics advocacy group Democracy Watch said MPs should be prevented from holding assets like Bitcoin.
“It’s clearly unethical for MPs or party leadership candidates to advocate for changes that will help businesses they are invested in, and the best way to stop this is to prohibit MPs from having investments,” Duff Conacher, said in an email.
During last week’s leadership debate in Edmonton, Poilievre was challenged over his past comments on Bitcoin. He should not be encouraging investment in “magic internet money,” said Brampton, Ont., mayor and leadership candidate Patrick Brown.
“People can make their own investment decisions,” Poilievre said in response to a question from Leslyn Lewis, an Ontario Conservative MP and leadership candidate.
“I simply said they should be free to decide whether they want to use Bitcoin. I don’t want to be like communist China and ban Bitcoin or other technologies.”
Canadian investors are already free to invest in cryptocurrencies. Indeed, Poilievre is not the only MP with investments in crypto. At least seven others declared Bitcoin or other digital currency assets in their disclosures, including:
Ben Lobb (Conservative, Ontario): Bitcoin.
Chandra Arya (Liberal, Ontario): Stock options of Coinbase Global Inc.
Taleeb Noormohamed (Liberal, BC): Bitcoin, Ethereum, Stacks and Coinbase Global Inc.
Joël Lightbound (Liberal, Quebec): Purpose Bitcoin ETF, Purpose Ether ETF, Bitcoin and Solana.
Scot Davidson (Conservative, Ontario): Evolve Cryptocurrencies ETF, held by spouse.
Tony Van Bynen (Liberal, Ontario): Ethereum.
Terry Beech (Liberal, BC): Ethereum.