Canadian PM breaks ethics rules, ethics commissioner says

Source: Xinhua| 2017-12-21 10:40:54|Editor: Yurou
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OTTAWA, Dec. 20 (Xinhua) -- Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau broke some provisions of federal Conflict of Interest Act when he vacationed on a private island owned by the Aga Khan, a parliamentary commissioner said Wednesday.

Trudeau broke the act by failing to arrange his private affairs to avoid being in conflict of interest, Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson said in a news release. She has been investigating Trudeau's Christmas trip in 2016 to the private island of the spiritual leader of Ismaili Muslims in the Bahamas.

The prime minister also violated the rules by accepting accommodations on the private island by someone who is registered to lobby his office, travelling on non-commercial aircraft charted by the Aga Khan, and not recusing himself from discussions that provided an opportunity to further the Aga Khan's interests, Dawson added.

Trudeau and his family stayed at the Aga Khan's home on Bell Island in the Bahamas from Dec. 26, 2016 to Jan. 4. Trudeau has publicly confirmed they were taken there by the Aga Khan's private helicopter.

In response, Trudeau told reporters on Parliament Hill Wednesday that he regretted not taking pro-active precautions to ensure there was no conflict of interest or appearance of conflict of interest.

"I'm sorry I didn't, and in the future I will be clearing all my family vacations with the commissioner," he said.

Dawson found that besides the post-Christmas trip, Trudeau had also accepted a vacation on the island for himself and his family in December 2014, and his wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau set up a trip to the island in March 2016 with a friend of hers and their children.

"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 in the news release.

In what Dawson titled: "The Trudeau Report," she looked at the Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons, which he is subject to as an member of parliament, as well as the Conflict of Interest Act which applies to him as prime minister.

She also ruled that Trudeau and the Aga Khan cannot be characterized as friends, which could have allowed for some exemptions under the Act.

However, the commissioner said that Trudeau didn't contravene the Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons, because he didn't discuss House business with the Aga Khan.