If Justin Trudeau’s wholly improper “family holiday” ~ which included Liberal MP Seamus O’Regan, who is now Veterans Affairs Minister, and Liberal party president Anna Gainey and their spouses ~ on the Aga Khan’s private island wasn’t bad enough, now CBC News reports that there appears to be an ethical black hole into which “unacceptable” gifts might fall.
“An apparent loophole in the federal government’s ethics rules,” the CBC News repots explains, “may prevent Canadians from ever knowing what gifts Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his family received from the Aga Khan during their controversial vacation on his private island in the Bahamas … [because] … Trudeau’s office says he doesn’t have to tell Canadians about the Christmas gifts he and the Aga Khan exchanged because he told Canada’s ethics commissioner … [but, and it’s a HUGE BUT] … the ethics commissioner’s office says information about those gifts won’t be listed in its public registry because Trudeau accepted an unacceptable gift from the Aga Khan … [and] … “The public registry generally includes only acceptable gifts within the meaning of section 11 of the Act,” said Margot Booth, a spokeswoman for the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner’s office … [thus] … “Unacceptable gifts do not trigger the Act’s disclosure requirement and would likely be addressed in an examination, as was the case with Mr. Trudeau’s vacation stay on the Aga Khan’s private island.”“
So, in addition to the whole smarmy “family vacation” thing with the free and totally improper rides in private helicopters we now know that the Trudeaus received an “unacceptable gift” from the Aga Khan but we will likely never know anything much about this gift … like it’s value.
If it was an ethically “unacceptable gift” then has Prime Minister Trudeau given it back? Would that not be the ethical thing to do? Perhaps, but the CBC News story says that “Officials in the ethics commissioner’s office acknowledge that there are limits to what they can do when a member of Parliament accepts an unacceptable gift … [because] … “The Conflict of Interest Act does not provide for any measures to be taken when gifts have been found to be unacceptable following an examination,” said Booth. “The only direct result of an examination report is shedding light on the activity examined” … [further, it is reported] … Nor does the ethics commissioner have the power to order that an unacceptable gift be repaid or returned.“
Now, it is important to remember that former ethics commissioner Mary Dawson ruled that the trip, itself, was an “unacceptable gift” but, the news story says that “Dawson’s report also revealed that Trudeau and his family exchanged gifts with the Aga Khan but did not disclose the nature or the value of the gifts.” It now appears that at least one of those was also “unacceptable” but, thanks to poorly drafted rules we, Canadians, may never know just how much of value the Aga Khan gave to Canada’s prime minister so we shall, rightfully, be allowed to be suspicious that Justin Trudeau accepted a bribe in return for government favours yet to be offered. The whole thing reeks of corruption.
It wasn’t a family vacation with an old family friend … ethics commissioner Dawson ruled that the “family friendship” with the Aga Khan was dormant from the time of Pierre Trudeau’s death in 2000 until Justin Trudeau became leader of the Liberal Party in 2013. It looks suspiciously like the Aga Khan ignored Justin Trudeau until he, Trudeau, became useful. The presence of Seamus O’Regan and his husband Steve Doussis was, arguably, OK because O’Regan and Trudeau are long time friends but the addition of Liberal Party President Anna Gainey raised eyebrows, even though she, too, is an old family friend, because it seemed to risk mixing potential business (future grants to the Aga Khan Foundation) and Liberal politics with pleasure.
Of course the solution is simple: Justin Trudeau could just tell the truth … but that may be difficult because, while I suspect that Prime Minister Trudeau probably wants to do that, to get it all over and done with, his campaign team, now his PMO, had to construct a narrative in 2015, to counter the “just not ready” campaign … a narrative that said that Justin Trudeau was smart, well informed, wise and even noble and, above all, never, ever wrong. Being open and honest would go against the narrative and I don’t think his
puppet masters handlers advisors will allow it.
Now, it appears that, just hours ago, Prime Minister Trudeau said that he gave the Aga Khan a sweater and the Aga Khan gave him an overnight bag … I accept that as 100% true, but … there are overnight bags and then there are overnight bags …
… there’s a big difference between a $15.00 overnight bag, a $250.00 overnight bag and a $5,000+ overnight bag. I seem to recall that there were limits on the value of gifts that an elected member could receive from anyone other than a family member. And, of course, was that the only gift?
Absent Justin Trudeau being open and honest, Canadians can and should assume the worst … he received more than one “unacceptable gift” from the Aga Khan which he refuses to disclose or return and for which the Aga Khan Foundation expects something ~ taxpayers’ money ~ in return.
It’s another blow to Justin Trudeau’s reputation and to the Liberal Party‘s brand.