Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 7/2/2018 (1195 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
OTTAWA — The federal Tories’ Manitoba lieutenant says it’s time Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pay back taxpayers for the security costs of his trip to a Bahamas island, which violated federal ethics rules.
"It’s about a prime minister saying, ‘I have done something wrong and I’m going to accept responsibility.’ I think that’s what we’re looking for," Portage-Lisgar MP Candice Bergen said.
Bergen, who is the Conservative House leader, seconded a motion Wednesday by Tory Leader Andrew Scheer, calling on anyone who violates federal ethics rules to pay back Canadians for any incurred taxpayer dollars.
The motion was aimed at Trudeau’s Bahamas vacation in December 2016, where he was a guest of the Aga Khan. The spiritual leader’s aid organizations regularly receive government funds, leading the ethics commissioner last December to find Trudeau in a conflict of interest.
RCMP data released to media last fall show the vacation cost taxpayers $215,398, mostly for security fees.
The motion failed in a Wednesday evening vote, with the Liberals unanimously opposed. Bergen said she was surprised no Liberals broke ranks, because the motion specifically avoided naming Trudeau, and included both the ethics code (which applies to MPs) and ethics act (which applies to ministers).
She said MPs and ministers regularly pay back expenses that fall outside the rules, often because they didn’t understand the rules.
The vote "reinforced that there’s one set of rules for the rest of us, and a very different set of rules for Justin Trudeau, because he believes that he’s special," Bergen said. "He thinks laws and rules and general norms don’t apply to him."
Liberal MP Robert-Falcon Ouellette (Winnipeg Centre) called the vote "a ploy by the Conservatives to embarrass the government." He said Trudeau has apologized for his mistake.
St. Paul-area Liberal MP MaryAnn Mihychuk rolled her eyes when asked about the motion.
"I think it’s just political hype because they don’t have anything of substance to go on," she said, adding Trudeau doesn’t have much choice about how much security accompanies him.
Transcona MP Daniel Blaikie voted for the motion, as did all other NDP MPs.
"It’s consistent with the sense of frustration a lot of people have that the prime minister broke the law, and there doesn’t seem to be any consequences for that," he said, adding there should be financial penalties for all ethics-code breaches.
Blaikie said the motion should have been expanded to include concerns around insider information, referring to Finance Minister Bill Morneau selling shares prior to tabling a pension reform, though the ethics commissioner cleared Morneau last month of breaching either the ethics act or code.
Blaikie claimed the pension change will end up costing Canadians much more than any of Trudeau’s security details.
Bergen said it’s appropriate he have a high level of security, but that the cost of the trip was excessive, likely because it is a private island.
RCMP documents show that more than $50,000 went to accommodating officers. Bergen said Trudeau ought to pay back the portion of the trip that accounts for its remoteness, so taxpayers only pay what a typical trip of that time frame would cost.