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Trudeau welcomes ethics questions on Aga Khan

Trudeau and his family spent holiday at wealthy religious leader’s private retreat on Bell Island in the Bahamas


 

OTTAWA – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he’s looking forward to answering questions from the federal ethics commissioner about his Christmas vacation to a Caribbean island owned by the Aga Khan.

The prime minister and his family spent the holiday at the wealthy religious leader’s private retreat on Bell Island in the Bahamas.

Conservative leadership candidate and Opposition MP Andrew Scheer has asked ethics commissioner Mary Dawson to look into the trip.

Scheer says he wants to know if Dawson thinks it appropriate for the prime minister to accept the hospitality of someone whose foundation receives funds from the Canadian government.

The Aga Khan Foundation has been the beneficiary of tens of millions of dollars in government contributions to international development projects.

In his first public remarks on the controversy since media reports emerged last week, Trudeau characterizes the trip as a family vacation to spend time with an old family friend, but says he’s happy to discuss it with Dawson.

“The Aga Khan has been a longtime family friend,” Trudeau told a news conference. “He was pallbearer at my father’s funeral, he has known me since I was a toddler and this was our family vacation.

“As for the conflict of interest commissioner, the ethics commissioner, I look forward to answering any questions she may have.”

Trudeau’s office said the prime minister and his family flew in a government jet to Nassau on their way to the island getaway and will reimburse the return airfare costs.

The Aga Khan is the hereditary spiritual leader of the world’s approximately 15 million Ismaili Muslims and a renowned philanthropist.

In 2009, then-prime minister Stephen Harper made him an honorary citizen of Canada.


 
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Trudeau welcomes ethics questions on Aga Khan

  1. This shouldn’t have to be explained to Canadians.

  2. Section 14.1 of the Conflict of Interest Act says that an MP should not accept “directly or indirectly, any gift or other benefit … that might reasonably be seen to have been given to influence the [MP] in the exercise of a duty or function of his or her office.”
    h$$p://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/ethics-commissioner-trudeau-aga-khan-1.3927846

    A winter vacation for the family on a semi-private tropical island would be seen to be a direct “benefit” by more than a few snow covered Canadians. Whether Trudeau was influenced by by this benefit is unknown. However, IMO it would seem correct that in this case it “*might reasonably be seen* [emphasis mine] to have been given to influence the [MP]”, given that Trudeau ‘s government provides funding to the Aga Khan’s foundation.

    Will be interesting to see if the ethics commissioner pursues this or not. And, if she does pursue it, whether there are mitigating details that we are currently unaware of, e.g., Trudeau used his personal funds to reimburse the Aga Khan for the cash equivalent value of “the benefit”.

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