The Current

PM's trip to Aga Khan's private island 'warrants an investigation'

A close family relationship with the Aga Khan has Prime Minister Trudeau in hot water for a warm weather getaway. Was it a vacation with a friend or a breach of ethics?
Prime Minister Trudeau's holiday to the Aga Khan's private island is raising ethical concerns due to the fact the Aga Khan is a political lobbyist for his foundation. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

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During the holidays, Justin Trudeau and his family were guests at a private Bahamian island owned by multimillionaire philanthropist and spiritual leader, the Aga Khan. 

The Aga Khan Foundation, a non-profit which supports development projects in Africa and Asia, has received over $300 million from the Canadian government in the last 12 years.

"I think the prime minister missed an opportunity here to pre-clear the trip," Conservative leadership candidate and opposition MP Andrew Scheer tells The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti.

"The fact that the foundation receives a significant amount of tax dollars, I believe, warrants an investigation."

Scheer has asked the conflict of interest and ethics commissioner to look into the trip and determine whether the prime minister violated the Conflict of Interest Act by accepting a private gift from the Aga Khan.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Aga Khan are longtime friends. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

David Akin, senior political reporter at the National Post, broke the story and tells Tremonti the key question is not how the prime minister got to the Bahamas, but how he got to the Aga Khan's island once he was there.

"The conflict of interest act is crystal clear on this point. A prime minister or any minister cannot travel on a chartered or private aircraft."

When Akin asked Seamus O'Regan, a Liberal MP, how he and his husband get from Nassau to Bell Island, he tells Tremonti O'Regan answered,"The Aga Khan sent over his private helicopter ... that private helicopter cannot be used by the prime minister."

While some may see this as a minor issue, Ian Greene, co-author of Honest Politics, Seeking Integrity in Canadian Public Life, says mistakes add up.

"These are the kinds of things that begin to diminish trust in government."

Listen to the full segment at the top of this web post.

This segment was produced by The Current's Lara O'Brien and Ines Colabrese.