A stench of corruption (2) and a whiff of panic

I asked, a few days ago, if we, Canadians, really “need to know” all the details about Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s vacations. I concluded, as I often have, that we might want to give him the benefit of the doubt … it looks like I may have been wrong, again. As with Minister Monsef’s status, it looks like another case of double standards: one rule for ordinary Canadians while a privileged few, those like Prime Minister Trudeau and Minister Maryam Monsef  who are in the small circle that is protected by the Laurentian Elites, can ignore the rules.

The issue of the PM’s vacation got, suddenly, a lot more cloudy when we learned that he carisse-2016-0517_4689-webspent it on the Aga Khan’s private island in the Bahamas. That’s still would not, necessarily, be a big deal except that, as CTV News reports: “The federal government provides tens of millions of dollars in funding to the Aga Khan Foundation of Canada every year .. [and] … In 2015, Global Affairs Canada provided more than $46 million in funding for projects in countries including Afghanistan, Egypt, Kenya, Pakistan and Tanzania. The projects cover maternal, newborn and child health funding, as well as strengthening basic education … [and, further] … Khalil Shariff, executive director of the Aga Khan Foundation of Canada, is registered to lobby a variety of federal departments, including Global Affairs Canada and the Prime Minister’s Office. Publicly available records show he’s met with top officials at Global Affairs six times in the last year, including International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau and her chief of staff.” This is a little a lot too close to conflict of interest to be given the benefit of the doubt.

In fact, as Paul Wells, writing in the Toronto Star, says, “Somewhere in the sullen sandstone bunker of Ottawa’s Langevin Block, somebody has finally pulled the populism alarm …  You know the one. It says IN CASE OF ENTITLEMENT, BREAK GLASS .. [while] … Beneath that inscription, in a smaller font, it says I MEAN, FEEL FREE TO WAIT A WHILE, BECAUSE ENTITLEMENT IS FUN. BUT IF IT GETS REALLY BAD, GO AHEAD AND BREAK THAT GLASS … [but] … The glass remained unbroken when Trudeau partied with Bono and Kevin Spacey at Davos a year ago. Nobody reached for the little hammer when his top staffers, Gerald Butts and Katie Telford, posted moving expenses that could have paid to bury Trajan’s legions in Styrofoam peanuts. Everyone kept their cool when Health Minister Jane Philpott hired a Liberal donor for bespoke limo service around the Golden Horseshoe … [and] … Even after Trudeau’s social appointments turned out to form an arrow on Google Maps pointing to the one billionaire in China who stays up at night wondering whether the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation has enough money to get by, nobody pulled the red lever … [but] … there comes a point. Perhaps Trudeau realized he had reached it as he was flying back from his New Year’s family vacation at the Aga Khan’s private island in the Bahamas.” Even Gerald Butts and Katie telford realize that this smells.

There’s nothing wrong with being friends with the Aga Khan, there’s nothing wrong with supporting his causes, but when tens, even hundreds of millions of taxpayers dollars have gone to him and his projects it is beyond just wrong to accept his hospitality. It looks like a payoff. Even Canadians like me who have been inclined to give the prime minister and his team the benefit of the doubt are now bothered by the sickening stench of corruption.

The Globe and Mail reports that “Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will not attend the inauguration of president-elect Donald Trump, his office says, so he can refocus his energies on a cross-country tour to take the pulse of Canadians as he enters the second year of the Liberal mandate … [and] … The meet-the-people tour comes after Mr. Trudeau has been heavily criticized in Parliament for unethical fundraisers, where well-heeled Canadians pay $1,500 to spend time with the Prime Minister in the private homes of wealthy donors.” Skipping the Trump inauguration is, probably, a canny political move that will not do him any harm, at all, but the Globe and Mail goes on to say that “Mr. Trudeau also suddenly pulled out of a planned three-day trip to the ritzy Swiss ski resort of Davos to attend the World Economic Forum, an invitation-only imageevent for world leaders, business tycoons and celebrities.” That is an important meeting where global political, industrial and opinion leaders get to rub shoulders and have private, off the record discussions about key issues, and it seems to me that if he is skipping that meeting then his office is very worried about public perceptions. In fact, in addition to the stench of corruption we might also be getting a whiff of panic from Team Trudeau.

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