OTTAWA, ON. (NEWS 1130) – The federal ethics commissioner is launching an investigation into Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s use of a private helicopter during his winter vacation last month.
— Cormac Mac Sweeney (@cmaconthehill) January 16, 2017
Ethics commissioner Mary Dawson says in a letter to Conservative MP Blaine Calkins that Trudeau may have violated multiple sections of the federal ethics code when he hopped on a private chopper to reach a private island, both owned by the Aga Khan. The Aga Khan is a long-time Trudeau family friend who is also the spiritual leader of the world’s 15 million Ismaili Muslims.
After taking a government jet to Nassau, the Trudeau entourage, which included a Liberal MP and the party’s president, travelled on a private helicopter in order to get to their ultimate destination, a private Bahamian island. Trudeau says he will fully cooperate with the investigation. “I take this very seriously and I’m happy to respond to all questions that the ethics commissioner and others may have.”
Both the Conflict of Interest Act and Trudeau’s own ethics guidelines bar the use of sponsored travel in private aircraft, allowing it only for exceptional circumstances related to the job of prime minister and only with the prior approval of the ethics commissioner.
Trudeau defended the actions last week and said he was ready to answer any questions Dawson had about the trip.
This story came to light after a Conservative Party leadership candidate complained to the commissioner, claiming Trudeau’s actions may breach the Conflict of Interest Act, since the vacation could be seen as a gift from a lobbyist.
The Aga Khan’s foundation has received tens of millions of dollars from Ottawa over the past dozen years and Trudeau has called him a close friend of his family.