In a press conference in Ottawa on January 10, 2017, prime minister Justin Trudeau dodged questionsdealing with his recent vacation at the Aga Khan’s private island, saying that he is “sure more discussions [are expected] about this in the coming weeks” and looks forward to answering any questions by the Ethics Commissioner.
David Akin, the parliamentary bureau chief for the Sun chain of newspapers, revealed (National Post , January 6, 2017) that Trudeau, his family and a few friends spent the New Year as the guest of the Aga Khan on the religious leader’s private island in the Bahamas. Akin noted that the Aga Khan, who is the 49th Hereditary Imam of the world’s 15 million Shia Ismaili Muslims, has been a friend of the Trudeau family for years, beginning with Pierre Trudeau and his Aga Khan Development Network recently received from Trudeau government $55 million grant over five years to improve maternal and child health in Afghanistan.
Andrew Scheer, MP for Regina-Qu’Appelle and candidate for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada, has sent a letter to the Ethics Commissioner formally asking her to investigate prime minister Justin Trudeau for accepting the gift of a free luxury vacation on a private island.
Scheer noted that the facts in this case are indisputable. Justin Trudeau and his family took a secret vacation to a private island in the Bahamas, which is owned by His Royal Highness, the Aga Khan whose The Aga Khan Foundation has received tens of millions of dollars from the federal government. According to Scheer, these facts raise a question regarding a possible conflict of interests.
I’m just asking about your recent holiday’s vacation, sir, The Aga Khan of course is a good friend of your family and for long was a friend of your family, but he is also the chairman and a director of an organization that is a registered lobbyist and competes for federal foreign aid funding. Andrew Shceer for one has filed a complaint on conflict of interests to the Ethics Commissioner. Can you address this issue that he believes that there is a conflict of interests? Why did you take that vacation?
The fact is that the Aga Khan was a long time family friend. He was pallbearer at my father’s funeral. He has known me since I was a toddler and this was our family vacation. As for the conflict of interests commissioner, Ethics Commissioner, I look forward to answering any question she may have.
Could you also confirm that you were there with another member of Parliament. Could you identify that member of Parliament? Could you tell me any other public office holders who were on the island with you?
This was a family vacation and I will answer any of the questions that the Ethics Commissioner has for me and we’ll more, I’m sure more discussions about this in the coming weeks. Thanks you very much.