Canadian PM Trudeau violated conflict of interest rules by visiting Aga Khan's island, concludes ethics commissioner

12:23 PM | 21 Dec, 2017
Canadian PM Trudeau violated conflict of interest rules by visiting Aga Khan's island, concludes ethics commissioner
Share
OTTAWA - The Canadian ethics watchdog concluded on Wednesday that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau contravened some conflict of interest rules when he accepted a vacation last year on a private island belonging to the Aga Khan, the spiritual leader of the Ismaili community.

Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson said Trudeau contravened a rule on gifts when he accepted the use of the island in March and December 2016 as there were ongoing official dealings with the Aga Khan and the Aga Khan Foundation Canada was registered to lobby Trudeau’s office.

“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 stated.

"Trudeau also contravened the rules when he and his family travelled in the Aga Khan’s private helicopter last December and when his family travelled on a non-commercial aircraft chartered by the Aga Khan in March 2016," Dawson added.

Moreover, she found Trudeau didn't properly recuse himself on two occasions in May 2016 from private meetings about the Aga Khan and a $15-million grant to the billionaire philanthropist's endowment fund of the Global Centre for Pluralism.

The release highlighted that the Conflict of Interest Code for members of the House of Commons bars Canadian officials from taking gifts or other benefits that can influence them in the future.

Justin Trudeau spends vacation on Aga Khan's ... 04:09 PM | 7 Jan, 2017

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spent his vacation at a private Island of Ismaili Muslims' spiritual leader, ...

The watchdog said Trudeau travelled on the Aga Khan non-commercial airline in violation of Canada’s Ethics Code.

Trudeau Feels Sorry for Family Trip

Soon after the report, Trudeau publicly apologized for not asking Dawson for her clearance. He said he didn't believe the vacation would be an ethical concern because he'd been told (without referring to by whom) there was no issue since the Aga Khan, the spiritual leader of the world's Ismaili Muslims, is a friend.

During an emergency news conference, Trudeau took responsibility for the ethical lapse and said, in future, he'll ask the ethics commissioner in advance to clear all his personal vacations.

"We need to make sure that the office of the prime minister is without reproach and in the future including on (vacations with) family friends and personal family trips, 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," Trudeau said.

Let it be known that this is the first time a Canadian premier has been accused of breaking conflict of interest norms but what could be off joy for the flamboyant leader is the confirmation by Dawson's office that no penalty would be imposed on him.

Trudeau has said he has known the Aga Khan, Prin­ce Shah Karim Al Husseini, since childhood. The Aga Khan, the title held by the leader of the Ismaili branch of Shia Islam, was a pallbearer at the funeral of Justin’s father, former Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau.

Aga Khan's family links with Justin

Prince Karim Aga Khan is the 49th hereditary Imam of the Ismaili Muslims and he is Swiss-born, lives in France but has a British passport.

Aga Khan graduated from Harvard University and is among the top 15 of the world's wealthiest royals, according to Forbes magazine.

It says he had an estimated wealth of $1bn (£640m) in 2008.

When the Canadian premier was alleged of breaking conflict of interest laws, he said he has known the Aga Khan, Prince Shah Karim Al Husseini, since childhood.

The Aga Khan, the title held by the leader of the Ismaili branch of Shi‘ite Islam, was a pallbearer at the funeral of Justin’s father, former Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau.