The Conservatives are asking the RCMP Commissioner to reopen an investigation to determine whether Prime Minister Justin Trudeau violated the Criminal Code over his family’s 2016 luxury vacation at the Aga Khan’s private Bahamian island.
Conservative ethics critic James Bezan wrote a letter to Commissioner Brenda Lucki on Wednesday requesting a new RCMP inquiry after Mr. Trudeau told the House of Commons on Tuesday that he did not give himself permission to accept the all-expenses-paid gift from the Ismaili Muslim leader.
“Mr. Trudeau admitted that he did not have the consent in writing of the head of his branch of government to accept this valuable gift,” Mr. Bezan wrote. “In my respectful view, Mr. Trudeau’s answer ... requires the national police force to reopen the matter and begin a criminal investigation immediately.”
RCMP documents outlining the force’s 2019 inquiry show the Mounties believed there were reasonable grounds to charge Mr. Trudeau with fraud for accepting the $215,000 vacation from the Aga Khan, who had significant business dealings with the Canadian government.
However, the RCMP decided against laying the charges because of unclear federal rules for accepting gifts, which required the written consent of the head of a government branch. Because Mr. Trudeau heads the government, the RCMP said, “it cannot be definitely determined whether or not Mr. Trudeau can simply provide consent to himself.”
Mr. Bezan said Mr. Trudeau is now “under a cloud of suspicion,” and the Commissioner, “in the spirit of being open to new evidence,” should commit to interviewing Mr. Trudeau and his staff about “his apparent criminal offence.”
Mr. Bezan later told reporters that the issue at stake is whether the Prime Minister is above the law. “He cannot act with impunity, he should actually be held to a higher standard, and that’s why the RCMP have to reinvestigate.”
During Wednesday’s Question Period, interim Conservative leader Candice Bergen and Mr. Bezan asked the Prime Minister if he would co-operate with the RCMP in a new investigation. Mr. Trudeau did not directly answer the question and accused the opposition of “flinging mud.”
Deputy Conservative leader Luc Berthold and deputy opposition whip Lianne Rood asked whether Mr. Trudeau declared the Aga Kahn trip as a taxable benefit on his income taxes. Mr. Trudeau responded that the Conservatives were “manufacturing distractions” instead of focusing on issues that are important to Canadians.
Mr. Bezan’s justification for a new inquiry is based on the 2019 RCMP investigation documents, which the Conservatives obtained under the access-to-information law. The RCMP launched the inquiry after then-ethics commissioner Mary Dawson released a report in 2017 that found Mr. Trudeau had violated four sections of the Conflict of Interest Act. At the time of the vacation, the Aga Khan had millions of dollars of dealings with the government.
During Tuesday’s Question Period, Ms. Bergen asked Mr. Trudeau whether he gave himself permission to take a free trip.
“Mr. Speaker, no. This matter was settled years ago when the ethics commissioner released the report,” Mr. Trudeau said. He added, “the RCMP looked into this matter and no political interference was around it. It came to its own conclusion. There was nothing to pursue.”
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