The story of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s controversial private vacation continues as the nation’s ethics commissioner has launched an investigation into his family trip to the Bahamas. It began when Trudeau took his family and a few extra guests down south to visit the Aga Khan at his private island home. However, riding on a private aircraft to travel around is an apparent violation of federal law and his own rules.
The federal Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner will look into the potential of two violations of the Conflict of Interest Act. Two Conservative MPs sent separate complaints in regard to Justin Trudeau’s travels to the commissioner Mary Dawson. She sent a letter back to one of them, plus shared the contents of that letter with the National Post. The letter states she may have grounds to investigate Trudeau due to a potential conflict of interest. The first point of conflict is the fact that he received a free vacation from the Aga Khan, “the founder and a director of an organization that is a federally registered lobbyist” and for a violation of the Act prohibiting Justin Trudeau from using a private aircraft.
Dawson wrote her letter to Conservative MP Blaine Calkins, stating that she proceeds to open an investigation on Justin Trudeau and that it satisfies all requirements to open up this investigation. Andrew Scheer, a potential successor to lead the Conservative Party, believes Trudeau broke the rules accepting gifts from registered lobbying organizations. The Aga Khan Foundation Canada is one of those kinds of organizations.
“Being offered a private vacation on someone’s private island is not something that happens all the time,” Scheer said. “It just seems like ethical guidelines are not top of mind in the PMO (Prime Minister’s office) right now.”
According to the National Post, the maximum sanction that Dawson may levy for per violation is $500 which would be very little for Justin Trudeau who earns more than $350 000 annually with a free home as a bonus. His reputation and political standing are what could really take a hit, though. It is something that his political opposition could use as a weapon against Trudeau someday.
BREAKING: @JustinTrudeau did not advise Conflict of Interest Commissioner of friendship with Aga Khan before accepting trip to Bahamas.
— David Akin (@davidakin) January 12, 2017
This would be the first time that an investigation into sitting prime minister’s activities would take place. Trudeau admitted to the allegations of what he did, yet he does not feel that he broke any rules, says the National Post.
“I’ve said a number of times this was a personal family vacation,” Justin Trudeau told reporters.
“Any questions that the ethics commissioner has and that Canadians have, we’re happy to engage with.”
“It’s something we look forward to discussing with the Conflict of Interest Commissioner but we don’t see an issue on that.”
Justin Trudeau’s opposition in the National Democratic Party is pushing for the investigation to come swiftly, according to the National Post. “We believe it is critical that you respond swiftly to this violation in order to defend the importance of the act,” they wrote.
The investigation could test the relationship between Trudeau and Dawson. According to the Privy Council Office, her term ended in January but Trudeau extended it for six months more. The Prime Minister will have the choice to extend her again or to find someone else to sign a long-term appointment. She would do herself a huge favor by favoring Justin Trudeau in this process.
Trudeau is currently in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia at the time of this article.
[Featured Image by Enrique De La Osa/AP Images]