Newly released documents detail public cost of Trudeau’s controversial vacation. Most of it was for security.
OTTAWA—Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s controversial holiday to the Aga Khan’s private island cost Canadian taxpayers at least $127,000, newly released documents show.
Most of the bill is related to security for the prime minister and his family. The RCMP detail that travelled with the Trudeaus cost at least $71,988.87 — including more than $18,000 in overtime wages and $53,000 in per diems for the RCMP members — according to the documents released to Parliament on Tuesday.
Further costs included $32,000 for the use of the government’s CC-144 Challenger jet, and roughly $15,000 for the transportation, accommodation and per diems of staff from Global Affairs Canada.
Read more:7 things you wanted to know about the Aga Khan controversy, but were afraid to ask
The PMO has previously said that security rules bar him from flying commercial, but that he and his family reimburse the equivalent cost of commercial tickets when they travel for personal reasons on government planes.
There was also a $6,300 bill for the travel costs of a “tour technician” from the Privy Council Office, the arm of the bureaucracy that supports the PMO.
Ottawa’s ethics commissioner is currently investigating whether Trudeau broke Parliamentary rules by accepting a private helicopter ride from the Bahamian capital to the Aga Khan’s island.
Outside the House of Commons Tuesday, Conservative MP Gérard Deltell told reporters that he found the cost of the trip to be “extremely” high.
“The Prime Minister should take that into account when he speaks on behalf of Canadians,” he said.
Speaking during question period, Conservative MP Blaine Calkins denounced the price for food and beverages on the Challenger plane, which the documents said were $1,720.37.
“Just what in the world was the Prime Minister eating on that plane ride?” Calkins asked.
Bardish Chagger, the Government Leader in the House of Commons, responded that it’s normal for police to travel with the prime minister for security.
“RCMP have always accompanied prime ministers whether on personal or business travel,” she said.
Just after Christmas, Trudeau and his family went on vacation to the Aga Khan’s private Bell Island, in the Bahamas. At first the Prime Minister’s Office refused to say where Trudeau was vacationing, but later revealed he was staying at the billionaire religious leader’s tropical isle.
In the face of media pressure, it was also later revealed that Trudeau travelled to the island with Liberal party president Anna Gainey and her husband, a former campaign operative and head of an Ottawa think tank. Newfoundland MP Seamus O’Regan and his husband were also on the trip.
Trudeau also admitted that he took the Aga Khan’s helicopter to-and-from the Bahamian capital to Bell Island, prompting accusations that he broke Parliamentary ethics rules by accepting travel on a private aircraft.
The prime minister has repeatedly justified the trip as a family vacation to visit a longtime friend. But the vacation has come under close scrutiny because of the Aga Khan’s foundation in Canada, which has landed more than $300 million in government aid contracts since 2004 and actively lobbies public officers in Ottawa.
Trudeau has also said he took a private helicopter to the island in 2014, when he was an opposition MP.
The Star by Alex Ballingall
March 21st 2017