Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spent the Christmas break in the lap of luxury, on a private island in the Bahamas.
A small entourage, including the Trudeau family and Liberal Party insiders, were hosted by the Aga Khan, the billionaire religious leader of Ismaili Muslims.
The retreat seems to have been a gift, and yet, it is unknown if it was declared to Canada’s ethics commissioner.
In fact, Trudeau’s office initially didn’t disclose any details of the secret holiday to the Canadian public.
That is, until the information was uncovered by Postmedia’s David Akin.
The Liberals insist this was a private retreat, that no government business was discussed.
But the vacation has an apparent conflict of interest written all over it.
Aside from being a billionaire spiritual leader, the Aga Khan is also a philanthropist and the chairman of an organization registered to lobby the federal government.
The Aga Khan Foundation received $55 million from the Trudeau government for a foreign aid project in Afghanistan. It has received $310 million from Canadian taxpayers since 2004.
Perhaps that is why the prime minister wanted to keep his extravagant getaway a secret.
Conservative MP and leadership candidate Andrew Scheer has rightly filed a complaint with the government’s ethics commissioner alleging Trudeau’s Bahamas vacation broke federal conflict-of-interest laws.
This would be the second investigation into Trudeau’s private meetings.
Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson is already looking into Trudeau’s cash-for-access fundraising dinners with wealthy businessmen and members of China’s communist government.
Trudeau eventually acknowledged he was lobbied at those private dinners, which raised money for the Liberal Party of Canada.
As for his secret soirée in the Caribbean, Trudeau tried to change the channel by announcing new cabinet appointments on Tuesday. Despite his best efforts, however, he can’t shake this embarrassing revelation that easily.
On Wednesday, Postmedia’s Akin again broke news about the trip — that the Trudeau family was joined by Liberal Party President Anna Gainey and Liberal MP Seamus O’Regan, casting further doubt this was merely a private vacation for the Trudeau clan.
Do you usually vacation with your boss?
Do politicians typically bring along the head of their partisan, political fundraising organizations on family getaways?
Regardless of any political business that may or may not have taken place, Trudeau’s celebrity lifestyle is starting to catch up on him.
To be fair, perhaps the prime minister has a reasonable explanation for his actions.
If so, it will be worthwhile for him to explain them both to the federal ethics commissioner and to Canadian taxpayers.
But as things stand, his lavish getaway reinforces the appearance he’s an out-of-touch globalist, a rich-kid elitist, a wannabe member of the global upper class.
Trudeau can’t seem to distinguish his private lifestyle from his public role as prime minister.
He mixes public interests with the interests of the Liberal Party, and at times seems to treat the public purse as an extension of his trust fund.
Whether it’s the need for two nannies to help with his children or gallivanting in the Bahamas, Trudeau is turning the role of the prime minister into an episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians.
For all the hand-wringing about our American neighbours electing a reality TV star president, Canadians seem to have elected a man who aspires to appear on Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.
Ottawa Sun by Candace Malcolm
Jan 11th 2017