Throwing shade: Trudeau fined $100 over gift of sunglasses

Parliament's ethics watchdog has slapped Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with a fine for breaking the Conflict of Interest Act over a pair of sunglasses.

It's not the first time the PM has been penalized by the ethics commissioner

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau removes his sunglasses as he arrives in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam last year. P.E.I. Premier Wade MacLauchlan gave the prime minister two pairs of sunglasses last year. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Parliament's ethics watchdog has slapped Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with a fine for breaking the Conflict of Interest Act over a pair of sunglasses.

Trudeau paid $100 for failing to declare a gift worth more than $200 within 30 days of accepting it, according to a notice from the office of Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion. It was posted online sometime this month.

"As a result of an administrative error, the proper forms were not completed and the gift was not declared within 30 days," said Trudeau's press secretary Eleanore Catenaro in an email Friday.

The gift, according to the prime minister's public declaration, was two pairs of leather-covered sunglasses made by Fellow Earthlings eyewear, based in the rural P.E.I. community of Guernsey Cove.

They were a gift from P.E.I. Premier Wade MacLauchlan last summer and retail between $300 and $500.

The fine was first reported by the Ottawa-based website Blacklock's Reporter.

Trudeau sported the sunglasses on his trip to Vietnam in 2017. The manufacturer was thrilled.

"We just couldn't be more excited to have the most famous Canadian I can think of wearing a pair of the Fellow Earthlings Canadians," Sydney Seggie told CBC at the time.

"It's a big deal for us, for sure."

It's not the first time the prime minister has been caught on the wrong side of the Conflict of Interest Act.

Dion's predecessor, Mary Dawson, ruled last year that Trudeau violated some provisions of the act when he vacationed on a private island owned by the Aga Khan during the 2016 Christmas season and took a private helicopter to get there.

She said the vacation could reasonably be seen as an effort to influence Mr. Trudeau in his capacity as prime minister.

Dawson also fined Finance Minister Bill Morneau $200 for failing to declare a corporation that owns a villa in France.

MacLauchlan's office wouldn't comment on the fine — but was happy to talk about the gift. 

"Premier MacLauchlan was pleased to present the prime minister and [his wife] Sophie Gregoire with Island-made sunglasses last June," wrote his acting director of communications, Mary Moszynski, in an email.

"The premier is always pleased to showcase locally-made products from the Island."

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