Justin Trudeau has made another first as Prime Minister, but this particular accolade isn’t as cheery or hopeful as usual.
Following a report released by Canada’s federal ethics commissioner, Justin Trudeau was found guilty of violating federal conflict of interest rules, the first Prime Minister to ever do so.
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The report itself focused on Trudeau’s dealings with Prince Shah Karim Al Hussaini Aga Khan, specifically the Prime Minister’s Christmas vacation to the Aga Khan’s private island in the Bahamas and a previous trip in March 2016.
Trudeau didn’t properly disclose the details of the trip with the ethics commissioner and broke several different rules the Prime Minister must follow when associating with an individual with such political and economic clout as the Aga Khan, the report found.
"I'm sorry I didn't, and in the future I will be clearing all my family vacations with the commissioner," said Trudeau yesterday, during a press conference held in response to the report’s findings.
"We need to make sure that the office of the prime minister is without reproach” said Trudeau. “We will be proactively working with the office of the commissioner to ensure that there is no conflict of interest, no appearance of conflict of interest.”
Given Trudeau’s campaign promise of being the leader of a new, wholly ethical federal government, the fact that Trudeau is the first Prime Minister to ever violate federal ethics rules is more than a bit ironic.
But Trudeau won’t be facing any real consequences outside of being criticized and embarrassed. At the end of the day, the ethics commissioner doesn’t really have the power to do anything outside of making the Prime Minister’s ethics violations public knowledge.
So what, exactly, did Trudeau do what was so wrong?
A few things, actually.
Trudeau originally said that the trip to the Aga Khan’s private island was totally fine since he was a “friend.” The spiritual leader of Ismaili Muslims was a friend of Pierre Elliott Trudeau, but the friendship doesn’t extend to Justin, the report found. Basically, if Trudeau wasn’t Prime Minister, he probably wouldn’t be so chummy with the Aga Khan, so it’s not a true “friendship.”
Trudeau and his family also accepted gifts from the Aga Khan, unjustifiably used a non-commercial aircraft for the trip, and didn’t arrange his private affairs ahead of the two trips, other ethics violations found int he report.
Another major ethics violation was Trudeau not stepping aside during conversations on topics that could benefit the interests of the Aga Khan.