Justin Trudeau Is In Trouble Over a Luxury Trip to the Bahamas

Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson today reported on her inquiry under the Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons and her examination under the Conflict of Interest Act into the conduct of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in relation to vacations on a private island owned by the Aga Khan.

Dawson, however, concluded the spiritual leader of the world's Ismaili Muslims, couldn't be considered a friend-a conclusion Trudeau disputed.

Commissioner Mary Dawson said Wednesday that Trudeau put himself "in a position to be able to advance some of the matters of interest to the Aga Khan", who is described by Forbes as "one of the world's richest royals" and is a revered religious figure of almost 15 million Ismaili Muslims around the world.

Trudeau apologized for the ethics violations, telling reporters "I'm sorry" for the "mistake".

While the finding could tarnish Trudeau's popularity half-way into his mandate, he does not face any penalties.

The opposition has also accused finance minister Bill Morneau of being in a conflict of interest for not putting his assets in a blind trust. She found, however, that Mr. Trudeau did contravene the rule on gifts or other advantages set out in section 11 of the Act.

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"Justin Trudeau had no personal or private interactions with the Aga Khan and his family between 1983 and April, 2013, when he became Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, except for his father's funeral in 2000", her report said.

Before that, the two hadn't spoken for 30 years.

In both cases, the Trudeaus were told that the Aga Khan and his family may not be present, which led Dawson to remark: "These circumstances do not suggest that Mr. Trudeau and the Aga Khan were seeking to fulfil opportunities to spend private time together as friends".

NDP MP Nathan Cullen added that Canada's ethics rules need to come with a concrete sanction if they are to be effective. Moreover, he said it undermines Trudeau's entire defence of the trip. "I should have taken precautions, including my family vacation".

Dawson's report notes that the RCMP didn't have any security concerns with Trudeau taking the helicopter ride.

Dawson concluded that the vacation could reasonably be seen as a gift created to influence the prime minister, whose government has had official dealings with the Aga Khan, a billionaire philanthropist and spiritual leader of the world's Ismaili Muslims, and his charitable foundation.