Adrian Wyld The Canadian Press Justin Trudeau recently said his family stayed for free at a place owned by friends, after earlier saying his family would cover the cost of the stay.
The Canadian Press in Ottawa
January 17, 2024
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau assured Wednesday that all rules were followed during his recent vacation in Jamaica, as the opposition insists that the ethics commissioner appear before parliamentarians to respond to questions about this trip.
At a special meeting of the House of Commons ethics committee on Wednesday, Liberal MPs said they were not opposed to inviting interim commissioner Konrad von Finckenstein to come testify.
But they said they wanted his appearance to include a detailed explanation of the travel rules set out in the Conflict of Interest Act.
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Liberal MP Mona Fortier argued that any investigation into the matter requires a thorough understanding of how the law works, to ensure that citizens can maintain confidence in their democratic institutions.
Earlier this month, the prime minister's political entourage said the family was staying for free at a place owned by family friends, after earlier saying Mr. Trudeau would cover the cost of the stay.
The Prime Minister's Office said it had consulted with the Ethics Commissioner and that the family would reimburse the state for transportation costs on a government plane.< /p>
“Like many Canadian families, we went to stay with friends for the Christmas holidays [and] all the rules were followed,” Mr. Trudeau told reporters Wednesday morning during a a press conference in New Brunswick.
Conservative ethics critic Michael Barrett, who called for Wednesday's Commons committee meeting, said everyone was entitled to a vacation, but the problem was the changing narrative of Prime Minister's Office in this matter. “It’s incredibly problematic,” Mr. Barrett said.
Mr. Barrett said he wants to know whether Mr. Trudeau misled the Ethics Commissioner, which is why he is asking the Commons committee to invite Commissioner von Finckenstein to testify.
“In accordance with standard practice, the Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner was consulted before the trip to ensure that the rules were followed,” a spokesperson for the Prime Minister wrote last week, Mohammad Hussain. “Any allegation that we could mislead the Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner is categorically false. »
Mr. Barrett said he asked the acting commissioner's office for his communications with the Prime Minister's Office regarding the trip, but was denied.
Liberal MP Pam Damoff argued at the committee meeting Wednesday morning that this decision was justified. She explained that conversations between the Ethics Commissioner's office and MPs should be kept private so politicians can feel comfortable seeking advice.
The Conflict of Interest Act allows politicians to accept gifts and other benefits only from relatives or family friends with whom they have a well-documented close relationship. Mr. Trudeau had already broken this rule when he was the guest of the Aga Khan for the family holiday vacation in 2016.
The New Democratic Party (NDP) is instead calling for a review of the Conflict of Interest Act. “Liberals and Conservatives point fingers at each other when they curry favor with their rich friends, but then refuse to change the rules because they benefit them and the ultra-rich,” wrote NDP House Leader Peter Julian .
“New Democrats want an overhaul of the Conflict of Interest Act with the goal of truly cracking down on the influence of corporations and lobbyists in politics, so that it is ordinary Canadians who succeed, not the ultra-rich. »
Earlier this month, the National Post reported that Mr. Trudeau was staying at a luxury estate owned by his old friend Peter Green . The Canadian Press has not independently verified the information and officials declined to confirm where Mr. Trudeau was staying.