Prime Minister Justin Trudeau broke some conflict of interest rules when he accepted a vacation last year on the Aga Khan’s private island, the ethics watchdog said on Wednesday, the first time a prime minister has been found to have committed such a transgression.
While the finding could tarnish Trudeau’s popularity half-way into his mandate, he does not face any penalties.
Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson said Trudeau contravened a rule on gifts when he accepted the use of the island in March and December 2016, while there were ongoing official dealings with the Aga Khan and the Aga Khan Foundation Canada was registered to lobby Trudeau’s office.
“The vacations accepted by Mr. Trudeau or his family could reasonably be seen to have been given to influence Mr. Trudeau in his capacity as Prime Minister,” Dawson said.
While Trudeau says the Aga Khan is a family friend, Dawson found the exception for gifts from friends did not apply.
Trudeau said he accepted her report and would clear future vacations with the watchdog.
“I take full responsibility for it. We need to make sure that the office of the prime minister is without reproach,” Trudeau said.
Trudeau and his family vacationed on the island during the holidays in late December 2016 into January this year. Members of his family visited in March 2016.
Trudeau has come under fire from the opposition, who have said the luxury Bahamas vacation was inappropriate and showed the Liberal government is out of touch with average Canadians.