The Prime Minister also used Aga Khan’s private helicopter
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is being investigated over the vacation he and his family spent on the private Bahamian island of billionaire philanthropist and spiritual leader Aga Khan over Christmas.
The country’s federal conflict-of-interest and ethics office is now determining whether Trudeau’s visit to Khan’s home breached conflict-of-interest rules, a spokeswoman for Mary Dawson, the ethics commissioner, confirmed to the New York TimesMonday.
Trudeau’s press secretary told the paper that the Prime Minister, who also used Khan’s private helicopter, is happy to answer “any questions” that the commissioner might have.
At a press conference last Friday,Trudeau told journalists: “This was our personal family vacation and the questions you’re asking, I allow you to reflect on them,” the BBC reports.
he investigation into the vacation over the New Year’s holiday could hurt Trudeau, who came to power in 2015 promising accountability and transparency in government.
Ministers must clear travel on private planes ahead of time with Mary Dawson, the federal conflict of interest and ethics commissioner. Trudeau admits he did not do so and Dawson is now determining whether the trip contravened the Conflict of Interest Act.
“It was a private vacation with a personal friend,” Trudeau told a televised news conference in Fredericton, New Brunswick. “I am answering questions that the ethics commissioner has for us on that.”
Trudeau did not elaborate on the discussion with Dawson. If the ethics commissioner rules against him, Trudeau could face a small fine or a written slap on the wrists.
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 Shi’ite Islam, was a pallbearer at the funeral of Justin’s father, former Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau.
Trudeau is currently on a cross-country tour, an apparent bid to reconnect with voters amid negative headlines about the vacation as well as his Liberal Party’s fund raising activities.
Trudeau though is in no immediate danger since the next election is not until October 2019 and both main opposition parties lack permanent leaders.
A poll released on Tuesday by Nanos Research showed that Trudeau has fallen to a 12-month low when it came to whom voters preferred as prime minister. Even so, he gathered 46.7 percent support, well ahead of his closest rival, interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose, who had 18.8 percent.
The last Liberal government, ousted in 2006, was tarnished by a sponsorship scandal involving corruption and misdirection of funds to supporters in Quebec.