Canada's ethics commissioner found it to be a conflict of interest.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau broke multiple ethics rules by accepting a private helicopter ride from the Aga Khan during a 2016 stay on the billionaire and spiritual leader’s private island in the Bahamas, the Canadian ethics commissioner found.
Commissioner Mary Dawson said Wednesday that Trudeau put himself “in a position to be able to advance some of the matters of interest to the Aga Khan,” who is described by Forbes as “one of the world’s richest royals” and is a revered religious figure of nearly 15 million Ismaili Muslims around the world. Dawson also ruled that Trudeau didn’t clear the use of the Aga Khan’s helicopter, a form of private transportation that needs approval from the ethics commissioner’s office.
The Aga Khan, a prominent philanthropist, has business ties with the Canadian government and there was “ongoing official business between the Government of Canada and the Aga Khan at the time each invitation was accepted,” Dawson found.
Trudeau apologized for the incident and said in a tweet that it was “very clear I should have cleared my family vacation & dealings with the Aga Khan in advance.
“I’m sorry I didn’t, and in the future I’ll be clearing all family vacations with the Commissioner’s office,” he wrote, adding that he “always considered the Aga Khan a close family friend,” leading him to decide it was not necessary to formally clear the trip.
There is no substantial punishment for Trudeau’s violation — just a maximum fine of $500, but the ruling could have an impact on Trudeau’s reputation, according to Global News Canada. On Wednesday, political rival Andrew Scheer — leader of Canada’s Conservative Party — tweeted his disapproval of the prime minister’s conduct.
“Throughout this process, Trudeau has not acted like someone who accepts he has made a mistake,” Scheer wrote. “It seems he believes the rules do not apply to people like him.”