Trudeau blamed severely by the ethics commissioner

Photo: Adrian Wyld, The canadian Press
Justin Trudeau has met with the representatives of the press a few hours after the publication of the report of the ethics commissioner.

No, Justin Trudeau and the Aga Khan are not true friends. And for this reason, the commissioner of conflict of interest and ethics concludes that the prime minister is placed in a situation of conflict of interest in accepting to stay on the private island of the philanthropist last winter.


The long-awaited report of the commissioner Mary Dawson has been filed in Ottawa while the House of commons has lifted the camp a week ago already for the Christmas holiday. The report is damning in that it concludes that the prime minister has violated four articles of the Law on conflict of interest :


  • to have accepted a gift that could reasonably give the impression that it has been given to the influence (travel, because there were more than one) ;
  • not to be recused from discussions regarding the Aga Khan ;
  • not to have managed his personal affairs so as to avoid being in a conflict of interest ;
  • having used a carriage prohibited (the private helicopter of Aga Khan).


As soon as his family trip to Bells Cay has begun to make headlines, the prime minister pleaded that his family maintained a friendship with the Aga Khan since the time when his own father was the prime minister. As the act provides an exception for gifts from friends, Mr. Trudeau defended himself for having violated it.


However, commissioner Mary Dawson shatters this thesis. “Mr. Trudeau has had no private or personal with the Aga Khan between 1983 and 2013, a period of 30 years,” she notes. When the philanthropist came to Canada, it has not attempted to contact Mr. Trudeau, even between 2008 and 2013 when the latter was deputy. “There is also no indication that the mother or the brother of Mr. Trudeau, have had personal relations with the Aga Kahn after 1983, except at the funeral of the father of Mr. Trudeau [in 2000],” continues the commissioner.


The commissioner concludes that the famous friendship between the two men has developed that when Justin Trudeau became important. “Everything leads us to believe that the friendship between him and the Aga Khan derives from the election of Mr. Trudeau to the position of leader of the liberal Party of Canada and, later, of his accession to the post of prime minister. “Mr. Trudeau disagrees with this conclusion. “It has concluded that it is not a friend of the family. I always think of as a friend of the family, ” he said during a press briefing to respond to the report. “I am in disagreement with this conclusion of the commissioner. “


Three times, rather than a


We learn in this report that the Trudeau visited three times on the private island of the Aga Khan. The first time was during the Holiday period 2014-2015, while Mr. Trudeau was still only head of the PLC. The commissioner concludes that this first trip not in breach of the code governing conflicts of interest of deputies.


But the Aga Khan had launched an “open invitation” to come stay on the island, and the wife of Mr. Trudeau, Sophie Grégoire, took the invitation at its word. In February 2016, while her husband was prime minister, she contacted the daughter of the Aga Khan to him asking if she could stay on the island, in the month of march with one of her friends and their children. The request has been accepted. Justin Trudeau was not of the party, or, indeed, any member of the family of the Aga Khan. It is still Ms. Gregory who has requested in July 2016 if his family could return to the island for the Christmas holidays.


In 2016, a representative of the Aga Khan has requested the holding of a bilateral meeting, an official with the prime minister to discuss, among other things, a grant of $ 15 million that was trying to get the philanthropist for one of his projects on canadian soil. The previous conservative government had approved the grant in 2015, but its payment had been delayed. The Aga Khan has also played the intermediary in diplomatic relations between Mr. Trudeau and a country who complained of a canadian mining company.


The commissioner concludes that Mr. Trudeau has not ” managed his personal affairs in an appropriate manner. “He could anticipate, before the one or the other of the two stays — the Aga Khan and he would continue to be to the official reports […]. Neither Mr. Trudeau nor his family would have had to spend the holiday on the private island of the Aga Khan. “


Similarly, Mary Dawson believes that Mr. Trudeau would have had to recuse themselves from discussions relating to the grant of $ 15 million.


The fourth blame of Mary Dawson is related to the use by the family Trudeau of the private helicopter of the Aga Khan to visit the Bahamas at Bells Cay, where no commercial flight can go. The entourage of Mr. Trudeau had argued that the isolation of the island constituted an “exceptional circumstance” exempting the voyage of the application of the Law, which prohibits public office holders ” travel aboard a private aircraft “.


There was another solution, ” notes the commissioner. Of course, it would have been complicated — charter a flight with Flamingo Air to get to the neighboring island, and then to organize a trip by boat to complete the journey. But Mary Dawson believes that the family trip ” had nothing to unusual, unforeseeable or unavoidable to allow one to conclude the existence of exceptional circumstances.”


No penalty


The four statements of offence do not result in any penalty. Justin Trudeau has promised not to re-offend. “The report of the commissioner of this morning clearly indicates that I would have had to take precautions and be approved, in advance, my family vacation and my interactions with the Aga Khan. I’m sorry not to have done and, in the future, I’m going to approve all my family holidays by the office of the commissioner. […] If I had to redo it, we would have done it differently. “


The leaders of the opposition have harshly criticized the prime minister, recalling that Justin Trudeau is the first prime minister in history to be formally declared in violation of the Law on conflict of interests.


“It’s not as if a friend’s high school had bought him a dinner or a gift for Christmas. This is a great thing “, was mocked in French the leader of the conservatives Andrew Scheer. Mr. Scheer deplores the fact that Mr. Trudeau had not been more prompt in responding to questions.


“It is this that undermines the trust of the people, when it looks like they are hiding something. And the best way to prove that you do not hide anything, it is to provide all the details from the start, and not to oblige the media, the opposition or the ethics commissioner to you to pull out the nose. “


The chief néodémocrate, Jagmeet Singh, believes that this report adds to the problems experienced by the Finance minister, Bill Morneau. “It is clear that the liberals and the prime minister live in a world of powerful and people well-connected in which there are no consequences when breaking the laws. “


With Marie Vastel

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