It ‘didn’t occur to me’ Trudeau could have been investigated for fraud during Aga Khan trip, says former ethics commissioner

Mary Dawson will appear before the Ottawa House of Commons Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics on January 10, 2018.Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

Mary Dawson said she never thought of bringing in the RCMP to investigate Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for fraud when, as the then Federal Ethics Commissioner, she ruled that he had violated conflict of interest rules by taking an all-expenses-paid trip to the private room of the US Attorney General. to make Aga Khan. island in the Bahamas in 2016.

In an interview Thursday, Ms Dawson said the RCMP never contacted her to discuss her 2017 findings and had no idea they had launched an investigation into Mr Trudeau for possible fraud.

“When I did that investigation, there was never any connection to the criminal authorities,” she said.

She declined to say whether she thought the Mounties should reopen their 2019 investigation into the prime minister’s controversial family vacation, as the Conservatives had demanded.

“They’ll have to figure it out for themselves,” said Ms Dawson, whose term as ethics commissioner ended in January 2018.

Conservatives Call on RCMP to Launch Criminal Investigation into Trudeau’s Aga Khan Trip in 2016

Ms Dawson also said that when she released her damning report on the Trudeau family’s holiday, she was unaware of a provision in the Criminal Code that could lead to charges of fraud against the prime minister.

“At the time, nothing indicated to me that a possible criminal prosecution would follow,” she said. “I was not aware of any specific provision in criminal law that would apply to it.”

When asked why she didn’t think of sending her report to the RCMP, she replied, “I haven’t thought about it. It didn’t occur to me. And no one has approached me.”

Ms Dawson’s report, which formed the basis for the RCMP’s 2019 investigation, was released on December 20, 2017 and found that the Prime Minister violated four sections of the Conflicts of Interest Act. She criticized Mr Trudeau for taking a free vacation at Aga Khan’s resort when Ismail’s Muslim leader had millions of dollars in transactions with the Canadian government.

RCMP documents show that police believed there were reasonable grounds to charge Mr Trudeau with fraud for accepting a free vacation from someone doing business with the government. But in documents released to Conservatives under the Access to Information Act, the Mounties said that “it is unclear whether Mr. Trudeau can be prosecuted under Section 121(1)(c) of the Penal Code, as the section contains a provision that allows officials to accept benefits from individuals in government transactions, provided the official has the written consent of the head of their branch of government.”

Since Mr Trudeau is the head of government, the RCMP said it was unclear whether he had the authority to authorize himself to receive the gift.

“I was not particularly aware of that particular provision and it was not brought to my attention in any way,” Ms Dawson said on Thursday.

During the question period on Tuesday, Mr. Trudeau said he had not given himself permission to make the luxury vacation to the Bahamas.

On Wednesday, the Conservatives wrote to RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki to formally ask her to open a criminal investigation into the prime minister.

The RCMP said Thursday that they are sticking to a statement released last week that they are satisfied with their decision not to press charges for fraud against Mr Trudeau. On April 22, the RCMP stated that they had conducted a “thorough and impartial analysis” and that their findings had been validated by two separate third parties, including the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

During Thursday’s question period, Conservatives continued to press on the issue, saying there appears to be one law for the prime minister and another for Canadians.

“He accepted a $215,000 luxury vacation on a private island from someone who is actively lobbying the government for millions of taxpayer dollars,” said conservative ethics critic James Bezan. He admitted that he did not have permission to make the trip. The RCMP has all the pieces of the puzzle they need now to indict the Prime Minister for committing fraud against the government.”

The Conservatives urged the Prime Minister to speak proactively with the RCMP.

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland dodged these questions, saying Ms Dawson has already investigated the matter thoroughly and is urging Conservatives to press ahead with more pressing issues, such as climate change.

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