An ArmchairMayor editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
THE ETHICS COMMISSIONER is going to investigate Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s holiday-season vacay to a private home in the Bahamas.
Sure, why not? The Conservatives and New Democrats are howling “conflict,” saying he and his family shouldn’t have accepted a ride to a place called Bell Island, owned by the Aga Khan, on a helicopter also owned by the Aga Kahn.
It’s easy to get over-wrought about such things. Our politicians need to be above-board and transparent about who they accept rides and gifts from. Trudeau’s problem is that while he talks about transparency he isn’t always flawless in the way he practices it.
Section 11 of the Conflict of Interest Act is being quoted often and extensively by both the media and Opposition — it says office holders can’t accept gifts that might be seen to influence them in an official power, duty or function, unless the gift is part of protocol or is from a relative or friend.
The prime minister points out that the Aga Kahn has been a lifelong friend, having even been a pallbearer at his father Pierre’s funeral.
Other sections restrict how politicians travel. Trudeau says it was a family vacation.
The PM says he looks forward to discussing the matter with ethics commissioner Mary Dawson and that the whole thing will be “ironed out.”
In passing judgment on Trudeau for this alleged indiscretion — which the ever-indignant Tom Mulcair of the NDP calls “deeply disturbing” — the rest of us should ask ourselves what harm has been done.
Trudeau and his family took a vacation that didn’t cost the taxpayers any money. There’s no evidence at this point that anything was discussed with the Aga Kahn that wasn’t appropriate. In other words, no harm was done.
Next time Justin Trudeau goes on a trip, he should first ask the ethics commissioner if it’s OK under the rules, and release his itinerary so the Opposition critics can get themselves worked into a lather.
Genuine conflicts of interest are a big worry, but this holiday trip doesn’t feel like one of those. If Dawson does find reason for concern, Trudeau will receive a “notice of violation” and get on with life, presumably a little more carefully.
And everyone else can relax, re-assured that he’s learned a lesson.