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Trudeau's tropical vacation broke rules, says ethics czar

Trudeau's tropical vacation broke rules, says ethics czar

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau broke some conflict of interest rules when he accepted a vacation previous year on the Aga Khan's private island, the ethics watchdog said today, the first time a prime minister has been found to have committed such a transgression. The first of these trips was in December 2014, and the second in December 2016.

Dawson's long-awaited report chides the prime minister for not coming to her office before travelling to the Aga Khan's island previous year, and notes that Trudeau also didn't follow his own ethics rules for cabinet ministers.

The ethics commissioner also found that Trudeau broke the rules when he did not recuse himself from discussions of matters that could "further private interests associated with institutions of the Aga Khan".

He maintained that he and his family had "a standing invitation" from the Aga Khan and his daughter to vacation on the island.

The PM says he erred by failing to clear the vacations in advance.

The Act allows for some exemptions for gifts from relatives and friends, though in the report Dawson concluded that Trudeau and the Aga Khan can not be characterized as friends.

She found that Trudeau did not contravene subsection 6 (1), as he did not participate in, or make any decisions relating to, the Aga Khan and his institutions, nor did he contravene section 7, because he did not give them preferential treatment.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said Trudeau showed a lapse of judgment by not clearing the trips with Dawson ahead of time.

Justin Trudeau told Dawson that during that childhood trip he and the Aga Khan's children developed a friendship.

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Trudeau and his family stayed at the Aga Khan's home on Bell Island in the Bahamas from December 26, 2016 to January 4.

But Dawson notes that between 1983 and 2013, the younger Trudeau and the Aga Khan only interacted once at the elder Trudeau's funeral.

Ethics Watchdog, Mary Dawson, who has been investigating the Prime Minister's trip has ruled that the Prime Minister violated the ethics code in four ways.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said it's "troubling" that Trudeau acted as if the rules didn't apply to him.

The report also notes that a "senior American official of a previous administration" and friends were present during the December 2016 stay.

He said he considered the Aga Khan a close family friend and that's why he didn't think to run his trip by the ethics commissioner before going.

The Aga Khan and the Aga Khan Foundation were registered to lobby Trudeau at the time of the Bahamian vacation. "We have a system in place to protect the integrity of the (prime minister's) office", he said.

In his interview with the commissioner, Trudeau accounted for the decades-long gap in communication because he felt he "had yet achieved a level of success or attained a level of authority or responsibility that would allow him to have a peer-to-peer relationship with the Aga Khan".

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