Opposition Parties Say Prime Minister Trudeau Mislead Canadians

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Prime Minister Trudeau
Prime Minister Trudeau


OTTAWA – The Conservative Party and the New Democrats were pulling a political tag team on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday.

Both parties were on the attack at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday during Question Period over his 2016 Christmas holiday vacation. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appeared uncomfortable over the scope of the questions, which the Conservatives claim demonstrate “arrogance” and a “lack of good judgement” on the part of the Prime Minister.

At issue is the decision by Justin Trudeau to take a taxpayer-funded holiday on the private island of Aga Khan, a family friend. The PM and his family too a private helicopter to the island. At the time Prime Minister Trudeau said it was the only option to get to the island.

Leader of the Opposition Rona Ambrose now says that the Prime Minister’s staff arrived at the island via a commercial aircraft, and is asking why the Prime Minister, in her works, “It is bad enough that the Prime Minister chose to vacation at one of the most expensive destinations in the world when taxpayers have to pay, but why did the Prime Minister tell Canadians a private helicopter was his only option when he knew it was against the law and against his own ethical guidelines, and now we find out that it was not even true?”

The issue bubbled up in the House of Commons on Wednesday, and is likely to continue with the Conservatives feeling that they have an issue that can damage the Prime Minister’s reputation.

Oral Questions – House of Commons

Hon. Rona Ambrose (Leader of the Opposition, CPC): Mr. Speaker, in January the Prime Minister claimed that he had no choice but to take a private helicopter to the Aga Khan’s island. He said that there were no other options. It turns out that this was not true. His staff, in fact, arrived at the island by commercial plane, and that bill was picked up by taxpayers too.

It is bad enough that the Prime Minister chose to vacation at one of the most expensive destinations in the world when taxpayers have to pay, but why did the Prime Minister tell Canadians a private helicopter was his only option when he knew it was against the law and against his own ethical guidelines, and now we find out that it was not even true?

Prime Minister Trudeau
Prime Minister Trudeau

Right Hon. Justin Trudeau (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, as I have said a number of times in this House, this was a personal family vacation. I am of course happy to work with the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner to answer any questions she may have.

Hon. Rona Ambrose (Leader of the Opposition, CPC): Mr. Speaker, that is not an answer to our question. This is not a conversation between the Prime Minister and the Ethics Commissioner. In fact, he told all Canadians publicly that he had no other option.

The question is very simple. Why did the Prime Minister say he had no other option, when in fact he did? His staff took the other option, which was a commercial flight. He knew that taking this private helicopter was against the law and that it was against his own ethical guidelines. Now we find out it was not even true.

Why did the Prime Minister tell Canadians this if it was not true?

Right Hon. Justin Trudeau (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, this was a personal family vacation, and I am happy to work with the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner on any questions she may have.

Furthermore, on prime ministerial travel, as is always the case, the RCMP makes determinations around the safest way for the Prime Minister to travel.

Hon. Rona Ambrose (Leader of the Opposition, CPC): Mr. Speaker, no one has begrudged the Prime Minister a vacation.

First of all, when he chose to vacation at one of the most expensive places in the world, knowing full well taxpayers have to pay for wherever he goes, for security, that was a choice he made. Second of all, he has told all Canadians that he thought there was no other option.

Now he is saying the RCMP told him he had to take a private helicopter. Is the Prime Minister saying today, then, that the RCMP told him to break the law?

Right Hon. Justin Trudeau (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am happy to work with the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner on the details of my personal family vacation.

As I have said, the RCMP makes determinations around the safest way for the Prime Minister to travel.

The debate on the issue continued with the first question from the New Democrats.

Mr. Nathan Cullen (Skeena—Bulkley Valley, NDP): Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister once famously said, “I’m not middle class. I don’t pretend I am”, so I guess vacationing on a billionaire’s private island was just him proving his point.

However, he is not just entitled to his entitlement; oh no, he is also entitled to not follow the rules that govern all of us, because he believes he is above the rules. He told Canadians, “Travel back-and-forth from Nassau…happens on the Aga Khan’s private helicopter” and that “only happens through private means.”

Today we learned that the Prime Minister’s excuse is categorically false. Does he wish to change his story, or does he wish to continue to mislead Canadians?

Right Hon. Justin Trudeau (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, as I have said many times in the House, this was a personal family vacation, and I am more than happy to engage with the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner on exactly these issues and on any issues that she may raise.

On the issue of travel, the RCMP makes determinations around the safest way for the Prime Minister to travel.

Ms. Karine Trudel (Jonquière, NDP): Mr. Speaker, we have nothing against the Prime Minister taking vacation. However, he promised to be transparent, not only with the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, but also with all Canadians.

We expect the Prime Minister to answer questions here in the House. He said in public that “travel back and forth from Nassau to the island happens on the Aga Khan’s private helicopter”. He told Canadians that travel to and from the island “only happens through private means”.

I have a question for the Prime Minister. Why did he mislead Canadians?

Right Hon. Justin Trudeau (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to answer any questions the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner might have about my family’s personal vacation. As I have often said, the RCMP determines the safest way for the Prime Minister to travel.

The debate continued on with Members of the House repeatedly attempting to get an answer they wanted from the Prime Minister.

Those answers remained the same. It is likely that the issue won’t die off soon as both the New Democrats and the Conservatives will feel that this is an area where the Prime Minister is vulnerable.

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