Lesser of two evils
The conflict of interest and ethics commissioner’s ruling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s 2016 Christmas vacation in the Bahamas was like getting a lump of coal in your stocking.
It sucks, but what do you do with it?
In December, the ethics commissioner found Trudeau broke multiple conflict laws when he visited Aga Khan’s private island in the Bahamas in 2016.
Now Conservatives are asking Trudeau to appear before a House of Commons committee to answer more questions about the event, a request that he is not jumping on.
The cost of the vacation is about $200,000, some of which Trudeau has reimbursed as per standard practice. While the vacation is nowhere near to what U.S. President Donald Trump spent in 2017, it’s still a blight on Trudeau’s record. (According to CNN, Trump’s leisure travel had cost about $20 million in the first 80 days of him taking office.)
Now that Trudeau has been found to have breached the ethics code, what’s next? What consequences should Trudeau suffer? At the very least, he should repay the cost of the trip to taxpayers.
For perspective, Finance Minister Bill Morneau was fined $200 for his conflict of interest findings.
So far, Trudeau hasn’t responded one way or the other to the Conservatives’ request for a hearing. Instead, he wants to answer questions from the public across the country through scheduled town halls.
For now, we could be comforted by the fact he apologized and did not call it “fake news.”
Where are the consequences?
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was in hot water this week when he dodged questions about whether he would appear before the access to information, privacy and ethics committee.
In December the ethics commissioner found that Trudeau had four conflict of interest violations based on his acceptance of a gift from the Aga Khan.
Though Trudeau is the first prime minister to be found guilty of ethical violations, little has been done to hold him accountable.
Sure, he issued a public apology, but Trudeau still maintains that he’s friends with the Aga Khan; however, the two men didn’t form a relationship until Trudeau became the Liberal Party leader.
The Aga Khan’s friendship with Pierre Trudeau did not default to Justin. It doesn’t work like that.
Maybe Trudeau didn’t realize what he was doing, maybe he thought he’d get away with it, maybe he really does believe there was no conflict. Regardless, it happened and he was found guilty.
Sure, this ethical breach seems minor in comparison to what is happening south of the border, but it does beg the question: what is Trudeau hiding?
If the violation occurred because he didn’t know he was doing anything wrong, shouldn’t that be easily defended at the committee level? Why balk at talking to federal members of parliament, representatives of the people?
Based on the government’s track record, Trudeau will probably get off scot-free.
Shouldn’t our prime minister answer to his ethical violations? Shouldn’t there be consequences?