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Justin Trudeau in Parliament. PMO Photo by Adam Scotti

Trudeau refuses to reveal how many times he met Ethics Commissioner on trip to billionaire island

Parliament members from the Conservative Party and NDP asked 18 timed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau how many times he met the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner in relation to his vacation to billionaire island.

Trudeau did not answer the questions and instead repeated a script saying that he is pleased/ very pleased/ always pleased/ happy/ very happy to meet with the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner and work with her to answer any questions she may have on this subject or any other.

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.

The Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner has started investigating the case after receiving a letter from Andrew Scheer, MP for Regina-Qu’Appelle and candidate for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada.

Scheer asked the Ethics Commissioner 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.

The following are excerpts from the debate in parliament (May 10, 2017):

1. MP Jacques Gourde (Lévis—Lotbinière, CPC):

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister spends as much time explaining his rash decisions to the Canadian public and the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner as a disobedient child spends in time out thinking about what he has done. It is high time that the Prime Minister demonstrate some consistency and integrity and give the House some clear answers. How many times has the Prime Minister met with the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner to discuss his loose ethics?

Trudeau (Prime Minister, Lib.):

Mr. Speaker, as you know, I am always pleased to work with the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner to answer any questions she may have.

2. Jacques Gourde (Lévis—Lotbinière, CPC):

Mr. Speaker, it is a very simple question, but mainly it is a question of trust. What Canadians are hearing is that there are laws that apply to them but that do not apply to the Prime Minister. I will repeat my question. How many times has the Prime Minister met with the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner?

Justin Trudeau (Prime Minister, Lib.):

Mr. Speaker, as I have always said, I am very pleased to meet with the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner and work with her to answer any questions she may have on this subject or any other.

3. MP Candice Bergen (Portage—Lisgar, CPC):

Mr. Speaker, a moment ago, the Prime Minister arrogantly insulted our opposition leader and said she was confused. Let me say that I think this is actually full confusion right now with the Prime Minister. I will repeat the question in English, because the question is not if he is happy or satisfied or feeling good about meeting the Ethics Commissioner. Has the Prime Minister met with the Ethics Commissioner, and if so, how many times? It is very, very simple.

Justin Trudeau (Prime Minister, Lib.):

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to work with the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner to answer any questions she may have. That is what Canadians expect of the Prime Minister and that is exactly what I am doing.

4. Candice Bergen (Portage—Lisgar, CPC):

Mr. Speaker, what Canadians expect is that their Prime Minister would give a clear answer to a clear and a simple question. If he has something to hide, then Canadians want to know that as well. I would suggest, if he wants to send Canadians the message that he has nothing to hide, that he answer the question. How many times has the Prime Minister met with the Ethics Commissioner?

Justin Trudeau (Prime Minister, Lib.):

Mr. Speaker, I am very happy to work with and answer the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner’s questions. It is extremely important that we work… Mr. Speaker, Canadians expect the Prime Minister to work with the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner any time she has questions, and that is exactly what I have been doing.

5. MP John Brassard (Barrie—Innisfil, CPC):

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister keeps saying he is happy to meet with the Ethics Commissioner and answer any questions she might have, but he is really playing a game of political survivor by outwitting, outplaying, and outlasting the Ethics Commissioner over his vacation to billionaire island. It has been asked four times already. I do not even know why I am trying, to be frank, but I will repeat the simple question. How many times has the Prime Minister met with the Ethics Commissioner?

Justin Trudeau (Prime Minister, Lib.):

Mr. Speaker, I am happy, as should be any member of this House, to work with the Ethics Commissioner and answer any questions that she may have. I think that is important.

6. MP John Brassard (Barrie—Innisfil, CPC):

What a charade, Mr. Speaker. The Prime Minister said he would stand up every Wednesday and answer every question that is being asked of every member on this side of the House, and he fails to do it. He has been asked five times today about the Ethics Commissioner. For the sake of my colleagues, I will ask it again. How many times, how many times, how many times, how many times, how many times, and how many times has he met with the Ethics Commissioner?

Justin Trudeau (Prime Minister, Lib.):

Mr. Speaker, Canadians expect clarity and they expect consistency, and when asked the same question, I will give the same answer. That is what Canadians expect. I will work with and answer the questions that the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner may have.

7. Thomas Mulcair (Outremont, NDP):

Mr. Speaker, if the Prime Minister truly believes in the importance of question period, if he sincerely believes in transparency and accountability, he is going to have to find it somewhere inside himself to answer this very basic question, because it only concerns him and he knows the answer. He is being investigated by the Ethics Commissioner. How many times has the Prime Minister communicated with the Ethics Commissioner? Answer the question.

Justin Trudeau (Prime Minister, Lib.):

Mr. Speaker, when asked the same question, I will give the same answer. I am happy to work with the Ethics Commissioner on any questions she may have. One of the things that I like about prime minister’s question period is I get to take questions from any MP across the way who has a question, not just the party leaders. I think it is important for all members in this House to be able to ask direct questions of the Prime Minister.

8. MP Alexander Nuttall (Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte, CPC):

Mr. Speaker, we know that the Prime Minister has said he will co-operate with the Ethics Commissioner, but what we want right now is co-operation with the House of Commons. For the eighth time, how many times have you met with the Ethics Commissioner?

Justin Trudeau (Prime Minister, Lib.):

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to sit and work with the Ethics Commissioner on answering any of the questions she may have. That is the kind of thing that is important to Canadians. What is also important to Canadians is making investments in the middle class, in growth for the economy, and in putting forward a budget that is going to put more money in the pockets of the middle class and raise taxes on the wealthiest 1%. These are the focuses of our government. The priority of our government is serving the middle class and those working hard to join it.

9. Gérard Deltell (Louis-Saint-Laurent, CPC):

Mr. Speaker, all Canadians know that the Prime Minister has problems when it comes to counting. When it was time to make election promises, he talked of small $10-billion deficits. Now the deficit is up to $30 billion. Numbers are not the Prime Minister’s strong suit. I would like to ask him a very clear question for the ninth time. How many times did he meet with the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner? I would like a clear answer. Canadians want to know.

Justin Trudeau (Prime Minister, Lib.):

Mr. Speaker, I am very happy to work with the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner to answer any questions she may have. Our priority on this side of the House is working for the middle class and those working hard to join it. We are making historic investments in infrastructure, in the Canada pension plan, in child care, and in affordable housing. Those are the things we are working for on this side of the House, and it is too bad that the member opposite does not appear to be interested in all the positive measures we are putting in place.

10. Alain Rayes (Richmond—Arthabaska, CPC):

Mr. Speaker, in my previous life, I was a school principal, and when I listen to the Prime Minister, it feels like listening to a child who would have us believe he is always happy to visit the principal’s office but has no idea how many times he has actually been there. This should be an easy answer: one, two, or three times. I am sure it is less than five times. This is a simple question. Was it one time, or was it zero? I get the feeling the correct answer is zero.

Justin Trudeau (Prime Minister, Lib.):

Mr. Speaker, I am very happy to work with the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner to answer any questions she may have.

11. Pierre Poilievre (Carleton, CPC):

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister was getting tired of pretending to answer the question, so he has decided he just will not pretend to answer it at all. I will ask it one more time. We know that he has difficulty counting. How many times did the Prime Minister meet with the Ethics Commissioner with regard to the investigation into his trip to billionaire island?

Justin Trudeau (Prime Minister, Lib.):

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to answer as many questions as the members opposite have, but if they ask the same question, they will keep getting the same answer. I am pleased to work with the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner to answer any questions that she might have.

12. Cathy McLeod (Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, CPC):

Mr. Speaker, not only did the Liberals really miss their deficit targets by a whole lot, their revenue-neutral tax cut was off by $2 billion. I know there are some issues in terms of calculation, so I will try a different angle. Was it zero times the Prime Minister met with the Ethics Commissioner, was it one to five, or was it six to 10?

Justin Trudeau (Prime Minister, Lib.):

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to work with the Ethics Commissioner on any questions that she might have. The fact is, on this side of the House, we are focused on making investments that will make a difference in the lives of Canadians. Whether it is investing in infrastructure to the tune of $180 billion over the coming years, whether it is investing in child care spaces to help families, whether it is delivering the Canada child benefit that will help nine families out of 10 across this country, or whether it was raising taxes for the wealthiest 1% so we could lower them for the middle class, this government is focused on the priorities of Canadians, and we are delivering.

13. David Sweet (Flamborough—Glanbrook, CPC):

Mr. Speaker, “a new day”, “sunny ways”, “a new respect for Parliament”, “answering every question of every member”, “we are going to respect Parliament more”: these are all things the Prime Minister said when he was campaigning. Today, as you said, Mr. Speaker, Canadians will be able to judge the veracity of those words. Could you please tell the House how many times you have met with the Ethics Commissioner?

Justin Trudeau (Prime Minister, Lib.):

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to work with the Ethics Commissioner to answer any questions she may have. We continue to be focused on the things that matter to Canadians, such as restoring the federal government’s engagement in housing. For 10 long years, the federal government withdrew its support for national housing and national housing strategies. That is why we are pleased that low-income housing, that affordable housing for Canadians, has once again become a priority for the Canadian government. We are happy to work with mayors, the provinces, and community groups to deliver on the kinds of housing needs that so many Canadians are facing after 10 years of lower-than-necessary growth under the previous government.

14. David Anderson (Cypress Hills—Grasslands, CPC):

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister broke the law. He accepted gifts worth thousands of dollars on billionaire island. He is under investigation by the Ethics Commissioner. His obligation is to be honest with Canadians. What is he covering up here? How many times has he communicated with the Ethics Commissioner?

Justin Trudeau (Prime Minister, Lib.):

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to work with the Ethics Commissioner to answer any questions that she might have. Furthermore, our priorities on this side of the House continue to be making a difference in the lives of Canadians, particularly in terms of our seniors, where not only have we strengthened the CPP for a generation and ensured that future retirees have stable retirements, we have increased the guaranteed income supplement by 10% for our most low-income, vulnerable seniors. We continue to look at ways to invest more in affordable housing for our seniors, because we know that after 10 years of that government, there were underinvestments in housing. These are the kinds of things we need to do.

15. Peter Kent (Thornhill, CPC):

Mr. Speaker, I was going to ask about powerful new evidence that Canada’s sanctions monitoring, compliance, and enforcement of criminal financial activity is dysfunctional, and the Liberals foot-dragging in accepting the foreign affairs committee’s unanimous Magnitsky recommendations to get tough on corruption, but I think more relevant is the Prime Minister’s dysfunctional performance in question period. Just how many times has he met the Ethics Commissioner?

Justin Trudeau (Prime Minister, Lib.):

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to work with the Ethics Commissioner to answer any questions she might have. We continue as a government to focus on the priorities of Canadians, whether it is making sure we are lowering taxes for the middle class and raising them on wealthiest 1%, or whether it is delivering a Canada child benefit that gives more money to 9 out of 10 Canadian families by not sending child benefit cheques to millionaires, like was done by the previous Conservative government. We are focused on the things that matter to Canadians. We will continue to work hard to protect and defend the middle class, and those working hard to join it.

16. Michelle Rempel (Calgary Nose Hill, CPC):

Mr. Speaker, a well-known French writer once said, “Man is not what he thinks he is, he is what he hides.” Will the Prime Minister stop hiding the truth, show Canadians what he is actually made of, and tell Canadians how many times he has met with the Ethics Commissioner?

Justin Trudeau (Prime Minister, Lib.):

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to work with the Ethics Commissioner to answer any questions she may have. We are going to continue to work on the things that matter to Canadians. We are going to continue to invest historic amounts in infrastructure that is going to help families get to and from work in a reasonable amount of time, back in time for their kids’ soccer games. We are going to make the kinds of investments that make a difference, so that small businesses are able to get their goods to market. We are going to continue to engage constructively on the world stage to open up new markets for Canadian products, and better options for Canadian consumers. These are the priorities of this government. We are going to continue working on those.

17. Kelly Block (Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek, CPC):

Mr. Speaker, it is clear the Liberals are all show and no action. Perhaps another six months with their deliverology guru will allow the Prime Minister to work on his ability to deliver answers. How many times has the Prime Minister met with the Ethics Commissioner?

Justin Trudeau (Prime Minister, Lib.):

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to work with the Ethics Commissioner and to answer any questions that she may have. We continue to understand how important it is to work with Canadians to deliver on their priorities, such as extra help with the cost of raising kids, which the CCB is, helping nine out of 10 Canadian families and reducing child poverty by 40%. We are putting forward concrete measures to improve the lives of Canadians. We are strengthening the Canada pension plan for generations for the future. These are the kinds of things that make a significant difference in the lives of Canadians. We are going to continue to put Canadians’ priorities first.

18. Luc Berthold (Mégantic—L’Érable, CPC):

Mr. Speaker, the moral of this question period is, “don’t worry, I’m happy”. That is the Prime Minister’s new motto. Is that the answer he gave the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner? No, the Prime Minister confirmed 17 times today that he did not speak to the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner. Why does the Prime Minister refuse to answer Canadians? How many times did he meet with the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner?

Justin Trudeau (Prime Minister, Lib.):

Mr. Speaker, I am very happy to work with the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner to answer any questions she may have. It is important to emphasize the various ways we are meeting the needs and addressing the concerns of Canadians, whether by investing in infrastructure, which will change things in the everyday lives of Canadians, or in health care. We have signed agreements for the health care system. For the first time, we are making massive investments in mental health and home care. We know how badly Canadians want a government that is there for them.



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About CIJnews Staff

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