OTTAWA – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is getting used to international media attention and now he is getting tabloid headlines for vacationing with his family at an exclusive resort in the Caribbean.
The visit to Nevis, a small island that is part of the twin-island Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis, was billed as a private family vacation, but it has become fodder for celebrity gossip website TMZ.
There was also room for some diplomatic business as Trudeau met, and was bid farewell at his Jan. 8 departure, by the prime minister of the islands, Timothy Harris, and the country’s foreign affairs minister.
Local newspaper the St. Kitts and Nevis Observer published a picture of the three men posing in front of a Government of Canada aircraft.
The paper said Trudeau spent 10 days on Nevis with his wife Sophie Gregoiré-Trudeau and the couple’s three children, Xavier, Ella-Grace and Hadrien at an undisclosed location.
Since Trudeau became prime minister last year he has gained considerable exposure in the international media.
TMZ reported Saturday that Trudeau stayed at a swank resort. A PMO official did not give any details about the vacation, but said the prime minister would reimburse taxpayers for the cost of his and his family’s travel.
“As per long-standing government policy because of security, the Prime Minister must use one of the RCAF planes for all his air travel, whether on official or personal business,” press secretary Andree-Lyne Halle said in an email.
“When travelling for personal reasons, and as was the case with previous prime ministers, Mr. Trudeau and members of his family travelling with him reimburse an economy airfare.”
Department of National Defence Challenger jets, used for such travel, cost about $10,000 per flying hour to operate.
Former prime minister Stephen Harper has in the past also paid the economy fare-equivalent costs of personal travel with his family.
Harper issued an edict in 2011, saying he expected all senior officials to reimburse taxpayers for the cost of personal flights on government aircraft, after documents suggested former Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Walter Natynczyk had spent more than $1 million flying on the air force’s Challenger jets since 2008, including a flight to St. Maarten.