Ethics watchdog says Canada Prime Minister Trudeau broke rules

Cannabis plants and marijuana buds

OTTAWA-Prime Minister Justin Trudeau violated ethics rules in accepting vacations to the Aga Khan's private island in the Bahamas, according to parliament's conflict of interest watchdog.

Commissioner Mary Dawson said Wednesday that Trudeau put himself "in a position to be able to advance some of the matters of interest to the Aga Khan", who is described by Forbes as "one of the world's richest royals" and is a revered religious figure of almost 15 million Ismaili Muslims around the world.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says "next summer", and not July 1, is the date cannabis will become legal across the country. His office didn't immediately respond to an emailed request for comment about the report. "The issue here is not just about the nature of the friendship [with the Aga Khan] but it is about the way the prime minister has handled this right from the beginning".

"I had a lot of hope in this government, I had a lot of hope in this prime minister", he said.

Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson was investigating Trudeau's trip for much of the year. The Aga Khan, the title held by the leader of the Ismaili branch of Shi'ite Islam, was a pallbearer at the funeral of Justin's father, former Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau. The vacations are gifts under the conflict of interest regimes that Dawson administers.

Dawson also found that Trudeau contravened section 12 of the Act when his family travelled on non-commercial aircraft chartered by the Aga Khan in March 2016 and when he and his family travelled in the Aga Khan's private helicopter in December 2016.

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A March 2016 trip to Bells Cay taken by members of his family also created a predicament for the prime minister.

The Canadian foundation of the Ismaili Muslim spiritual leader, the Aga Khan Foundation of Canada, receives tens of millions of dollars a year from the Canadian government for worldwide development work. This year, Mr. Trudeau and his family will go to the Prime Minister's official cottage at Harrington Lake and the Canadian Rockies.

"In his written submissions, the Aga Khan described this invitation as an expression of the personal relationship between Mr. Trudeau and his family and the Aga Khan and his family, adding that he and his family have extended such standing invitations to a few close friends. Mr. Trudeau said it was as if no time had passed", the report said.

The release pointed out the Conflict of Interest Code for members of the House of Commons bars Canadian officials from taking gifts or other benefits that can influence them in the future.

Accepting an invitation, and accommodations on the private island, from someone who is registered to lobby his office.

Mr Trudeau had previously vacationed on the private island in 2014, when he was an MP. Since 1981, the federal government has contributed nearly $330 million to projects supported by his foundation.

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