Justin Trudeau’s 2016 Christmas trip to the Aga Khan’s private island in the Bahamas is back in the headlines. Ethics commissioner Mary Dawson says a loophole in the Conflict of Interest Act will prevent the public from knowing what gifts were exchanged with the Aga Khan during the prime minister’s trip.
Section 11 of the Act governing gifts only has guidelines for gifts that may influence a leader’s views on the job. It says: “No public office holder or member of his or her family shall accept any gift or other advantage, including from a trust, that might reasonably be seen to have been given to influence the public office holder in the exercise of an official power, duty or function.”
Other gifts, on the other hand, don’t need to be put in the public registry, because of their general nature as a normal expression of courtesy that likely won’t otherwise impact a leader’s decision-making while on duty.
“The public registry generally includes only acceptable gifts within the meaning of section 11 of the Act,” says Margot Booth, a spokeswoman for the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner’s office. “Unacceptable gifts do not trigger the Act’s disclosure requirement and would likely be addressed in an examination, as was the case with Mr. Trudeau’s vacation stay on the Aga Khan’s private island.”
Despite the commissioner’s evaluation, do you think Trudeau should reveal the items that were given to him during his trip in Christmas 2016? Should PMs be allowed to accept any gifts while in office – personal or otherwise, from people who aren’t family? Vote in the poll above and let us know in the comments below.