OTTAWA - Justin Trudeau is promising to compensate all groups that paid him hefty speaking fees since he became an MP.
The Liberal leader said Sunday he'll either give back the fees or find some other way to "make it right."
He could, for instance, give charitable groups donations equivalent to the fees charged or agree to appear at future fundraisers for them — for free this time.
"I'm willing to pay all of the money back, if that's what it comes to," Trudeau told CTV's Question Period. "But I am going to fix this."
Trudeau has been under fire since Friday, when it emerged that he'd refused to reimburse the Grace Foundation, a New Brunswick charity that lost money after paying him $20,000 to speak at a fundraising event last year.
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall piled on, demanding that Trudeau repay the $20,000 fee he charged for speaking at a Saskatoon literacy conference last year.
But the issue has been haunting Trudeau more generally since he voluntarily disclosed all his sources of income — including a $1.2 million inheritance from his father, former prime minister Pierre Trudeau — during the Liberal leadership race.
He revealed that he'd earned more than $1.3 million on the public speaking circuit, including $277,000 in the four years after winning election as an MP in 2008. He said he stopped accepting speaking fees once he began seriously contemplating a leadership bid in the spring of 2012.
Some of the groups from which he accepted speaking fees were charitable or non-profit organizations, including universities, school boards, hospital and health care organizations.
Conservatives and New Democrats have been highly critical of Trudeau for accepting public speaking fees. Had he not offered to reimburse the money, the issue doubtless would have dogged him throughout the next election campaign.
Trudeau stressed Sunday that all his speaking engagements were cleared by the federal ethics commissioner, that he never used any parliamentary resources to get to the events and that none of the money he earned went to finance his leadership bid, as Wall initially questioned.
"I'm doing this not because I'm worried that I did something wrong, because I didn't. Everything was done exactly according to the rules."
Still, he acknowledged there's been a public backlash to the voluntary disclosure of his personal finances, which he argued "raised the bar" for transparency and openness "way beyond" what's required even for cabinet ministers.
"For me, transparency isn't a slogan or a tactic; it's a way of doing business. I trust Canadians. I value their opinions. And now that I've heard them, I'm going to act," he said in a written statement.
Trudeau said he'll talk to each of the groups from which he accepted a fee since becoming an MP and find a way to "fix this and make it right."
Wall commended Trudeau for his decision.
"As I stated on Friday, elected officials are already paid to speak on important public matters by the taxpayers," Wall said in a written statement.
"I commend Mr. Trudeau for his reflection on this matter and for doing the right thing."
But Trudeau's federal political adversaries weren't so willing to let the matter go.
A spokeswoman for Prime Minister Stephen Harper questioned why Trudeau ever thought it appropriate for a sitting MP to charge fees for speaking to non-profit groups.
"Most parliamentarians raise money for charity, not from charities," said Julie Vaux.
New Brunswick Conservative MP Rob Moore noted that Trudeau ignored the Grace Foundation's plea for reimbursement for four months "and only when embarrassed in the media has he now claimed he will 'make it right.'"
"Justin Trudeau's willingness to take hundreds of thousands of dollars from charity demonstrates that Justin Trudeau's favourite cause is ... Justin Trudeau," Moore said in a statement.
Nor was NDP ethics critic Charlie Angus satisfied.
"I think the problem here is this seems to be about political management, of getting this off the table so it's not going to be used (by political rivals) further down the road," Angus said in an interview.
"But he needs to answer the question of the political maturity and judgment."
Regardless of whether it was technically within the rules, Angus said Trudeau should have considered public speaking part of his job as an elected official, not a way to supplement his $160,000 MP's salary.
Moreover, Angus argued that Trudeau has one of the worst attendance records of all MPs and appears to have skipped important votes — including one on raising the age of eligibility for old age security to 67 — while off making money as a public speaker.
On CTV, Trudeau noted that Sunday was Father's Day. He appeared to choke up as he said his late father taught him about the value of public service and would want him to "live up to Canadians' expectations."
He also said he's proud of the work he's done as a professional public speaker and bristled at a suggestion he was simply making money off his celebrity name.
"One speaking event you can make off of celebrity. The kinds of requests for me that kept coming in ... the past five years were based on the fact I'm a pretty good speaker. I'm actually a very good speaker."
Not good enough, apparently, to help the Grace Foundation, which hired Trudeau for an event in June 2012 to raise money for furniture for a seniors' home. Foundation board member Susan Buck wrote Trudeau in March to say the event had been "a huge disappointment and financial loss" and to request that he reimburse his fee.
The letter was circulated by the Prime Minister Office on Friday.
No foundation spokesperson could be reached for immediate comment Sunday.
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Come At Me, Bro
Justin Trudeau trains at Pan Am Boxing Club in Winnipeg on Friday Feb. 1, 2013.
Justin Trudeau & co. making faces.
Justin Trudeau splits his pants while pushing the "scrum machine" in support of Prostate Cancer Canada in Toronto Thursday, July 21, 2011.
Justin Trudeau gets his geek on at Montreal Comiccon in September 2012.
So Long 'Stache
Justin Trudeau has his moustache shaved off to raise money for the Judy LaMarsh Fund, that supports female candidates, at the Liberal Party convention in Ottawa on Saturday, January 14, 2012.
Coming For MacKay
Minister of National Defence Peter MacKay (left) is chased by Liberal MP Justin Trudeau in a motorized wheelchair during a wheelchair race relay on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, May 12, 2010. Twenty-five MPs and senators used a wheelchair for the day in support of the Canadian Paraplegic Association's Spinal Cord Injury and CPA awareness month.
All For One, One For All
Justin Trudeau all dressed up for the Montreal Movember Gala in 2010.
Pierre Trudeau's sons, Sacha, left, and Justin, tackle their mother's paperboy in Ottawa in this undated photo.
'Family... And A Cow.'
He Can Certainly Take A Punch
Alexandre (Sacha) Trudeau delivers a right hook to his older brother Justin during a play fight in 1980 at Ottawa airport as the boys await a flight with the return of their father, then-prime minister, Pierre Trudeau.
Be Honest With Me, Who's Cuter?
Justin Trudeau strikes a pose with an adorable baby.
A Very Furry Christmas
Justin Trudeau poses with his family on his 2010 Christmas card.
Former Liberal MP Ken Dryden, left, and Justin Trudeau play table hockey as they visit Sun Youth, a community organization, Monday, Jan. 14, 2008 in Montreal.
Yanking Their Chain
Then-prime minister Pierre Trudeau, left, watches as his 11-year-old son Justin swings on a chain during a tour of an old fort in the Omani town of Nizwa Dec. 2, 1983. Trudeau and Justin spent the day visiting the towns of Jebel and Nizwa 165 kilometres south of Muscat.
Justin Trudeau in Muskoka, Ont.
Liberal MP Justin Trudeau, centre, has his cowbay taken by his son Xavier, 4 years-old, while his wife Sophie Gregoire, second from left, holds daughet Ella-Grace, 3 years-old, while they attend the party's annual Stampede breakfast in Calgary, Saturday, July 7, 2012. This is the 100th anniversary of the Stampede.
Like Mother, Like Son
Eleven-month-old Justin Trudeau, urged on by his mother Margaret Trudeau, crawls up the steps of an aircraft in Ottawa on Dec. 5, 1972 to meet his father, then-prime minister, Pierre Trudeau on his return from Britain.
Cutting A Rug
Justin Trudeau dances with wife Sophie Grégoire before his speech at the Liberal showcase on April 6, 2013.
Next: What Is Pierre Trudeau Doing?
Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, wearing what someone called his "Mandrake the Magician outfit," walks down the grandstand steps to present the Grey Cup trophy to the victorious Montreal Alouettes in this Nov. 28, 1970 photo.
Hey, It Was The '70s
Pierre Trudeau leans over to kiss an unidentified young lady to the seeming surprise of his recent bride Margaret. Trudeau and Margaret spent Saturday March 27, 1971 at maple tree farm here near Montreal at a sugaring out party.
Fur Wasn't Always Controversial
Pierre Trudeau accompanies Margaret Sinclair, at the annual Governor General's skating party for members of Parliament in Ottawa Jan. 14, 1970.
Ditto For Seal Hunting
Pierre Trudeau looks through the scope of his rifle while on a seal hunting trip in Baffin Island's Clear Water Fjord, July 29, 1968.
A Leg Up
Pierre Trudeau shoes off his frisbee catching style while waiting to board his plane in Vancouver May 16, 1979.
Calisthenics Were Still Cool
Pierre Trudeau had no trouble keeping himself occupied during a break from a boat trip down the Northwest Territories, Nahanni River, Monday Aug. 4, 1970.
Pierre Trudeau takes a wary look at an ice crevice, decides to chance it and makes the leap successfully during a midnight seal- hunting expedition at Clearwater Fjord in Canada's Arctic, July 29, 1968.
When in France...
Pierre Trudeau receives a kiss from his wife Margaret during a tour of St. Pierre, France, Aug. 1971.
Pierre Trudeau in Guayana 1974.
Friendlier With Reporters Than You Know Who
Pierre Trudeau sticks his tongue out to Canadian Press Photographer Peter Bregg during the 1972 election campaign. This photo was taken aboard the campaign plane where such antics were considered off the record. The photo was not made available until after the death of the prime minister
Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau dances in Montreal Oct. 21, 1979.
Acting like a Beatle
Pierre Trudeau sprints away from a crowd of female admirers in Ottawa April 22, 1968. They surrounded him outside the Parliament Buildings on his third day in office.
Posing with a Beatle
John Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono, meet with Pierre Trudeau Dec. 24, 1969 in Ottawa.
'I See Cigars And Rum In Our Future'
Pierre Trudeau looks on as Cuban President Fidel Castro gestures during a visit to a Havana housing project in this Jan. 27, 1976 photo.
Acting Out A Tory Fantasy?
Pierre Trudeau pretending to strangle himself with a tie given to him as he was presented with honorary membership in the National Press Club in Ottawa Sept. 17, 1968.
Pierre Trudeau amuses a group of people in Fortune while on tour through Newfoundland, Aug. 3, 1971.
Oh Captain! My Captain!
Pierre Trudeau takes a ride on the Bluenose, Aug. 1972.
Nice Form Pierre
Pierre Trudeau works out at an Oshawa health club during a break in his 1968 election campaign.
Are The Flowers Too Much?
Pierre Trudeau, with a garland around his neck and a Hindu greeting symbol in paste on his forhead, rides a camel Jan 12, 1971 in the village of Benares, India, where he dedicated a water well.
I Do Love Flowers
Pierre Trudeau kids around with a carnation while waiting for voting results at the Liberal convention in this April 7, 1968 photo.
Indiana Jones Of The Great White North
Pierre Trudeau tries cracking a dog sled whip while visiting Baker Lake in the Arctic, March 10, 1970.
Never Afraid To Dance
Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Sheik Yamani, left, and Pierre Trudeau, right, dance a traditional Arabian dance while camping out in the desert in Madein Saleh, Saudi Arabia, Nov. 18, 1980.
Or Rock A Skirt
Pierre Trudeau, seen here taking part in Maori ceremonial dance in Wellington, New Zealand May 13, 1970.
Got The Moves
Pierre Trudeau does a dance after his campaign bus broke down in Montreal June 6, 1968.
Feather In The Cap
Wearing a "feather in his cap," Pierre Trudeau attended the official opening May 20, 1983, of an archaeological excavation in Hull, Que.
Ballet: Act 1
Pierre Trudeau, shown performing his famous pirouette during a May 7, 1977, picture session at Buckingham Palace in London, England.
Ballet: Act 2
Pierre Trudeau, in a moment of joy over patriation of Canada's constitution, preformed his now famous pirouette at Uplands Airport on April 18, 1982 following the Queens's departure for London after the 4-day state visit which climaxed with the proclamation of the Constitution Act.
He Got It From His Father
Pierre Trudeau is saluted by RCMP Officer as he carries son Justin to Rideau Hall in 1973.
Next: Justin Trudeau Through The Years
Prime Minister Trudeau and his then-wife Margaret leave the city's Notre Dame Basilica Sunday afternoon after the christening of their 22-day old infant Justin Pierre James, Jan. 16, 1972. Tasseled shawls kept the baby hidden from photographers and the 10-degree-below-zero weather.
March 1979 photo of the Trudeau children: Michel (front), Alexandre (Sacha) and Justin (rear).
It was a big day for Dad, but a long day for the three Trudeau children. Left to right, Justin, Michel and Alexandre (Sacha) Trudeau attended the swearing in ceremonies of their father Pierre Elliott Trudeau as Prime Minister March 3, 1980 at Government House.