Time to revisit ethics rules around gifts, Tory MP says after Trudeau Jamaica trip

  • Canadian Press

OTTAWA — Conservative MP Michael Barrett says what he calls the "status quo" is not working when it comes to the rules that govern gifts to public office holders.

Barrett, his party’s ethics critic, says Opposition MPs plan to revisit those rules after weeks of raising concerns about Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Christmas vacation to Jamaica.

The National Post reported that Trudeau and his family spent their holiday at a lavish estate, a report The Canadian Press has not independently verified.

Trudeau says he stayed with friends over the holiday, like most Canadians often do, and that his office followed all the necessary rules.

The interim federal ethics commissioner says he will not investigate the trip because his office is satisfied Trudeau was hosted by a close friend.

Barrett says Conservatives will discuss potentially changing the rules, describing the current state of the system as "not sustainable."

"The status quo obviously isn’t working," Barrett said, stopping briefly as he made his way to the weekly Conservative caucus meeting.

Regardless of whether Trudeau stayed with friends or not, the prime minister should not be taking lavish holidays at a time when Canadians are lining up at food banks in record numbers, he said.

The Opposition Conservatives first raised concerns about Trudeau’s trip after the Prime Minister’s Office initially said he would pay for his stay.

They later revised that statement to clarify that the prime minister and his family had stayed at no cost.

Konrad von Finkenstein, the interim federal ethics commissioner, told MPs on Tuesday that he cannot divulge what the PMO said about the trip.

Had it been problematic, it would have been recorded on his office’s website, which it is not, he said.

Von Finkenstein also said his office has the power to investigate gifts that are deemed to be exceptional, like if someone was gifted a $1−million Ferrari.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 31, 2024.

— With files from Mickey Djuric in Ottawa

Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press

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