Trudeau and family stayed ‘free of charge’ during Jamaica vacation: PMO

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office is clarifying that he and his family are vacationing in Jamaica “free of charge at a location owned by family friends,” after initially saying the family was paying for his stay.

The Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement Wednesday that the federal ethics commissioner was consulted “about these details prior to the trip to ensure the rules were followed.”

The office offered the clarification a day before Trudeau’s vacation on the Caribbean island ends. He is there with Sophie Grégoire Trudeau and her three children.

The couple announced last summer that they were separating after 18 years of marriage, and both said in separate statements that they would remain close.

Before the family left for Jamaica on Boxing Day, Trudeau’s office said he consulted with the ethics commissioner and that the family would cover the cost of their stay and reimburse the public for the cost of travel on a government plane.

“The prime minister continues to reimburse the equivalent of a commercial airline ticket for himself and his family’s personal travel,” his office said Wednesday.

Authorities declined to confirm where Trudeau is staying.

But CBC and Radio-Canada reported last spring that during the family’s last New Year’s trip to Jamaica, they stayed at a luxury estate owned by Peter Green, whose family has known the Trudeaus for decades.

The public broadcaster reported at the time that the PMO declined to say whether Trudeau paid for his own accommodation.

#PMO clarifies that Trudeau and his family stayed ‘free of charge’ during the #vacation in #Jamaica. #CDNPoli

Trudeau’s trip to the Aga Khan’s private island in the Bahamas after Christmas Day 2016 netted him an ethics violation for crossing conflict of interest rules.

Former commissioner Mary Dawson ruled that Trudeau’s vacation violated the law that prohibited ministers from accepting gifts or “advantages” that could be perceived as an attempt to influence government affairs.

He concluded that the exception that applies if the gift comes from a friend does not apply in that case. Trudeau and Aga Khan, a friend of his father, had had little or no contact in the 30 years before his election as leader of the Liberal Party.

A spokesperson for the Office of the Ethics and Conflict of Interest Commissioner said Wednesday he could not release details about the information Trudeau’s office provided about the trip, citing privacy requirements included in conflict of interest rules.

“The office only has the function of ensuring that the donation provisions of the law and the code are respected,” Jocelyne Brisebois said in a written statement.

“Please note that there is an exception in the law that allows a public official to accept gifts or other benefits given by a family member or friend and such gifts do not require public disclosure.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 3, 2024.

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