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It appears Justin Trudeau’s travel woes may not be over yet. Despite already being found to have breached the Conflict of Interest Act by the federal ethics commissioner back in December 2017 for his trips to the Aga Khan’s private island, a new investigation may be on the way.
Writing in a letter to RCMP commissioner Brenda Lucki, Conservative MP Peter Kent says that a thorough investigation is needed to ensure Canadians can have confidence in the ethical integrity of their government.
The detailed letter, 26 pages in length, shows that members of Trudeau’s family visited the Aga Khan’s island on three separate occasions from 2014-2017.
Kent, in his letter, cites a Criminal Code provision that bars any public official from accepting any benefit of any kind from someone who has dealings with the government.
Speaking with the media about his letter, Kent said he’s raising the matter at this time because of new information revealed through an access to information request that showed that RCMP members were deeply involved in the planning of the PM’s trip.
The former RCMP commissioner Bob Paulson had declined to investigate the matter at the time. Kent hopes that in light of this new evidence, the new commissioner Brenda Lucki will issue an investigation, ideally to be carried out by the OPP given the RCMP’s conflict of interest.
Mary Dawson, the former federal ethics commissioner, found that Trudeau had violated four sections of the Conflict of Interest Act during his Christmas vacation on the island in 2016, saying that the trip could be viewed as a gift to influence the Prime Minister.
Dawson’s report showed that the federal government has given nearly $330 million to Aga Khan Foundation Canada initiatives around the globe.
The government also stayed in regular contact with with foundation representatives, consulting with them on various global and economic trends.
Following Dawson’s report, opposition parties argued that Trudeau should refund taxpayers for the cost of his unethical trip. Trudeau declined to do so.
Trudeau did acknowledge at the time that he should have checked with the ethics commissioner before accepting the trip, something he pledged to do going forward.
“I’ve always considered the Aga Khan a close family friend, which is why I didn’t clear this family trip in the first place, but given the commissioner’s report, I will be taking all precautions in the future.”
In September of 2017, then lobbying commissioner Karen Shepherd said that there was zero basis for a complaint that said that the Aga Khan violated the lobbying code by allowing Trudeau and his family to vacation on his island.
However, Nancy Belanger, Shepherd’s successor, was recently tasked by a Federal Court judge to take another look into the matter.
The judge said that as a board member of the Aga Khan Foundation Canada, the Aga Khan was acting as a representative of the organization bearing his name when he gave the trip as a gift to the PM.
Trudeau is contesting the ruling in the Federal Court of Appeal.