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Trudeau found GUILTY as Charged!

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No Penalty.

Trudeau violated ethics laws with visits to Aga Khan's island, commissioner rules

'Vacations accepted by Mr. Trudeau or his family could reasonably be seen to have been given to influence' him

CBC NewsPosted: Dec 20, 2017 12:25 PM ET Last Updated: Dec 20, 2017 1:06 PM ETAd :

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau violated some provisions of the Conflict of Interest Act when he vacationed on a private island owned by the Aga Khan, the federal ethics watchdog has ruled.

But there will no penalties, according to the Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner.

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.

The PMO has also confirmed that Liberal MP Seamus O'Regan and his husband, Steve Doussis, as well as Liberal Party president Anna Gainey and her husband, Tom Pitfield, were guests on the trip.

After investigating the prime minister for the better part of a year, outgoing Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson released her decision on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets with the Aga Khan on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on May 17, 2016. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Dawson ruled that Trudeau violated the following the following four provisions of the act:

  • Every public office holder shall arrange his or her private affairs in a manner that will prevent the public office holder from being in a conflict of interest.
  • No public office holder or member of his or her family shall accept any gift or other advantage, including from a trust, that might reasonably be seen to have been given to influence the public office holder in the exercise of an official power, duty or function.
  • No minister of the Crown, minister of state or parliamentary secretary, no member of his or her family and no ministerial adviser or ministerial staff shall accept travel on non-commercial chartered or private aircraft for any purpose unless required in his or her capacity as a public office holder or in exceptional circumstances or with the prior approval of the Commissioner.
  • A public office holder shall recuse himself or herself from any discussion, decision, debate or vote on any matter in respect of which he or she would be in a conflict of interest
 

"When Mr. Trudeau, as prime minister, accepted the gifts of hospitality from the Aga Khan and the use of his private island in March and December 2016, there were ongoing official dealings with the Aga Khan, and the Aga Khan Foundation Canada was registered to lobby his office," she said.

 

"Therefore, 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 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 members of his family and their guests had accepted one in March 2016.

Dawson did rule, however, 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.

Trudeau's response: http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/trudeau-ethics-aga-khan-1.4458220

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No Penalty for Justin but .....

Aga Khan could face lobbying probe for Trudeau trip

Democracy Watch files complaint, saying Bahamas vacation violated lobbying law

By Elizabeth Thompson, CBC NewsPosted: Dec 21, 2017 5:00 AM ET Last Updated: Dec 21, 2017 5:35 AM ET

Trips by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his family to the Aga Khan's private island in the Bahamas violated conflict of interest laws, according to Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson, and could also put the Ismaili Muslim religious leader under investigation. (CBC)

 

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Elizabeth Thompson
Senior Reporter

 

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The Aga Khan could face an investigation into allegations he violated Canada's Lobbying Act by giving Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his family free vacations on his private island in the Bahamas at the same time as he was discussing funding for projects.

Democracy Watch sent a letter to the Commissioner of Lobbying late Wednesday, urging her to investigate whether Prince Shah Karim Al Hussaini Aga Khan IV "violated the Lobbyists Code by giving Prime Minister Trudeau and Liberal MP Seamus O'Regan the gifts of trips to his island home."

In the letter, Democracy Watch co-founder Duff Conacher says the Aga Khan's actions have put Trudeau and O'Regan in a conflict of interest. It is also against the law to give a public office holder a gift that could create a sense of obligation.

"Your position must be that anyone working for or associated with a company that is registered to lobby a public office holder who gives to or does anything for that office holder… that is more than an average voter does… puts that office holder in an apparent conflict of interest," he wrote.

The Aga Khan is the spiritual leader of millions of Ismaili Muslims and is listed as a member of the board of directors of the Aga Khan Foundation Canada. The foundation, which has received millions of dollars in federal government development aid over the years, is registered to lobby several federal government departments including the Prime Minister's Office, although the Aga Khan is not listed among those registered to lobby on its behalf.

Trudeau meets with the Aga Khan on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on May 17, 2016. Dawson ruled Wednesday that the PM should have recused himself from part of the meeting. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

A search of the lobbyist registry shows the foundation has filed 132 reports since 2011 outlining its meetings with government decision makers. However, none of those reports list any meetings with Trudeau.

Representatives of the Aga Khan Foundation of Canada contacted by CBC News have yet to comment.

The call for a lobbying investigation comes in the wake of a scathing report by Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson on Wednesday.

Dawson found that Trudeau violated four sections of the Conflict of Interest Act when he accepted a vacation on the island in the Bahamas and a ride in the Aga Khan's personal helicopter.

While Trudeau and his family got a tropical vacation, Canadian taxpayers got a bill for more than $215,000 in transportation and staffing costs — far more than the government initially disclosed to Parliament.

Dawson also revealed that Trudeau's trip during last year's Christmas holidays was one of three that Trudeau or members of his family had made to the island. Dawson disclosed that Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau stayed on the island in March 2016 with a friend and their children.

Neither the Aga Khan, nor any member of his family, was on the island during their stay.

Dawson said the Aga Khan was on the island during the Trudeaus' Christmas-time visit last year as was a "senior American official of a previous administration," who she did not name.

In her report, Dawson describes the relationship between Trudeau and the Aga Khan, the times they met and the questions they discussed.

Among them was a bilateral meeting on May 17, 2016 that was arranged by "representatives" of the Aga Khan. After a 15-minute chat between the two men about "personal matters, the Ismaili community in general and geopolitics," they were joined by three of the Aga Khan's representatives, Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly, staff members from the Prime Minister's Office and senior officials of the Privy Council Office.

Dawson's report says the government had found a funding mechanism to allow it to contribute to the Global Centre for Pluralism's endowment fund and Trudeau reaffirmed the government's $15 million commitment during the meeting.

The Aga Khan's pitch for government funding for a $200 million riverfront renewal plan in Ottawa was also discussed.

Dawson ruled that Trudeau should have recused himself from two discussions in May 2016 involving the $15 million grant.

"Two months prior to the May 2016 occasions, Mr. Trudeau's family accepted a gift from the Aga Khan that might reasonably be seen to have been given to influence Mr. Trudeau in the exercise of an official power, duty or function as Prime Minister," she wrote.

"For this reason, the discussions with the Privy Council Office and later with the Aga Khan about the outstanding $15 million grant to the endowment fund provided an opportunity to improperly further the private interests of the Global Centre for Pluralism."

While the Aga Khan is not paid to lobby government (one of the criteria under the law) Conacher said he believes the Aga Khan violated the lobbying rules. Otherwise, it would create a giant loophole, he said.

"Every single corporation, business, union, non-profit organization would start using board members to give gifts to politicians if this loophole were opened up by the lobbying commissioner."

Conacher is also calling for outgoing lobbying commissioner Karen Shepherd and incoming lobbying commissioner Nancy Bélanger to recuse themselves from ruling on the investigation because of the way Shepherd's contract was renewed and the way Bélanger was chosen in "a secretive, PMO-controlled process."

Manon Dion, spokeswoman for the lobbying commissioner's office, said she cannot reveal whether they are already looking into the issue.

Elizabeth Thompson can be reached at elizabeth.thompson@cbc.ca

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