OTTAWA: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau contravened some conflict of interest rules when he accepted a vacation last year on a private island belonging to the Aga Khan, the country’s ethics watchdog said on Wednesday.
Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson said Trudeau contravened a rule on gifts when he accepted the use of the island in March and December 2016, while there were ongoing official dealings with the Aga Khan and the Aga Khan Foundation Canada was registered to lobby Trudeau’s office.
“The vacations accepted by Mr Trudeau or his family could reasonably be seen to have been given to influence Mr Trudeau in his capacity as prime minister,” Dawson said.
She found the exception for gifts from friends did not apply in this case.
Trudeau and his family vacationed on the island during the holidays in late December 2016 into January this year, while members of his family and their guests travelled there in March 2016.
Trudeau has come under fire from the opposition, who have said the luxury Bahamas vacation was inappropriate and showed the Liberal government is out of touch with average Canadians.
Trudeau told reporters he accepted the findings of the report and that he took “full responsibility” for the mistake.
Trudeau has said he has known the Aga Khan, Prince Shah Karim Al Husseini, since childhood. The Aga Khan, the title held by the leader of the Ismaili branch of Shia Islam, was a pallbearer at the funeral of Justin’s father, former Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau.
Trudeau also contravened the rules when he and his family travelled in the Aga Khan’s private helicopter last December and when his family travelled on a non-commercial aircraft chartered by the Aga Khan in March 2016, Dawson said.
Trudeau also went against the rules by not recusing himself from discussions that “provided an opportunity to further private interests associated with institutions of the Aga Khan,” the investigation found.