Pro tip for the Conservative Party of Canada: Don't criticize Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for vacationing on an island owned by a billionaire philanthropist while the leader of your own party is vacationing on a yacht owned by a billionaire oilman.
And if you are the leader in question – hello, Rona Ambrose – especially don't tweet sanctimoniously that Mr. Trudeau just "couldn't resist the billionaire lifestyle."
Steward, fetch me another spot of bubbles while I criticize Justin for his holiday choices and infer that he is out of touch with the middle class. Oh, and tell the cook to make sure my lobster isn't overcooked again tonight!
The Conservative Opposition scored real political points after it came to light that Mr. Trudeau and his family had secretly holidayed on the private Caribbean island home of the Aga Khan. The federal Ethics Commissioner, Mary Dawson, is now investigating whether the post-Christmas getaway violated the Conflict of Interest Act – in particular the fact that Mr. Trudeau flew to the island on the Aga Khan's private helicopter.
But as iPolitics discovered, the entire time the Opposition was gasping in horror over Mr. Trudeau's transgressions, Ms. Ambrose was a guest aboard a yacht owned by Murray Edwards, one of Canada's wealthiest oil-sands developers.
Mr. Trudeau and Ms. Ambrose both have billionaire acquaintances, apparently. The Aga Khan was an honorary pallbearer at the funeral of Pierre Elliott Trudeau and has maintained a friendship with the new Prime Minister. Ms. Ambrose's partner, J.P. Veitch, is an old friend and former work colleague of Mr. Edward's.
It's all just old friends having each other over for a holiday, except the guests in this case are the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, and their hosts are billionaires who could have direct financial interests in decisions made by the federal government.
In both cases, the optics are terrible. Mr. Trudeau's secrecy and his decision to ignore a very clear rule about not accepting flights on private aircraft make him appear indifferent to the rules. Ms. Ambrose has a better leg to stand on, rules-wise, but her hypocrisy is monstrous.
She and her party had the government in retreat with this issue, but she has frittered away the advantage because she shares two traits with Mr. Trudeau: his failure to accept that elected officials shouldn't take favours from wealthy, influential friends; and, as we now know, his inability to resist "the billionaire lifestyle."