Trudeau’s latest family vacation sparks questions – again

Click to play video: 'Trudeau’s plane breaks down during Jamaica family vacation'
Trudeau’s plane breaks down during Jamaica family vacation
WATCH: The military aircraft that brought Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to Jamaica for a family vacation had a maintenance issue prior to his planned return to Canada this week, prompting a second plane to be flown to the Caribbean island, the Department of National Defence (DND) said Friday – Jan 5, 2024

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau returned from his luxury holiday to face a familiar line of questioning about whether he should accept free vacation stays from wealthy friends.

Opposition parties are criticizing Trudeau for spending his winter holiday at an oceanfront villa in Jamaica at no cost, as reported by the National Post. Rooms go for around $9,300 per night, according to the resort’s website.

Prospect Estate and Villas located near Ocho Rios is owned by businessman Peter Green. The Green family has known the Trudeaus for decades.

According to the report, the prime minister vacationed at Prospect Estate from Dec. 26 to Jan. 4 with his three children and Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau. The two announced they were legally separating last summer.

Click to play video: 'Trudeau addresses separation from wife Sophie, thanks Canadians for respecting family’s privacy'
Trudeau addresses separation from wife Sophie, thanks Canadians for respecting family’s privacy

Had Trudeau paid out of pocket, the nine-night stay would have cost nearly $84,000, reported the National Post.

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As of Friday, Trudeau was back in Ottawa, but did not have any public events scheduled.

The prime minister’s office would not confirm where Trudeau and his family stayed in Jamaica, but in a statement said the trip was cleared by the ethics commissioner.

“The Prime Minister and his family are staying with family friends at no cost. As per standard practice, the Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner was consulted on these details prior to the travel to ensure that the rules were followed,” said the prime minister’s press secretary Mohammad Hussain in an email to Global News Thursday.

“The Prime Minister continues to reimburse the equivalent of a commercial airline ticket for his personal travel and that of his family,” Hussain added.

Earlier this week, the prime minister’s office clarified Trudeau and his family stayed “at no cost at a location owned by family friends,” after originally telling the Canadian Press the family was paying for the holiday.

The vacation details prompted Conservatives to question Trudeau’s judgment, accusing him of being far removed from everyday Canadians.

“While millions of Canadians had to cut back or cancel plans over the holidays because of eight years of his Liberal policies driving up the cost-of-living, Justin Trudeau took a free vacation, worth $84,000 from a Trudeau Foundation donor and lied about it to Canadians,” said Conservative ethics critic Michael Barrett Friday via email.

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Similarly, the New Democrats said Trudeau “just doesn’t get what Canadians are going through.”

“Prime Minister Trudeau yet again shows how out of touch he is as he takes another lavish trip to Jamaica, paid for by his billionaire friend,” said NDP ethics critic Matthew Green in a statement to Global News.

Trudeau faced criticism last winter for vacationing at the same luxury resort in Jamaica, as reported by CBC/Radio Canada.

The Green Family donated to the Trudeau Foundation in 2021. Last year, the charity came under scrutiny following revelations that a businessman with ties to Beijing donated $200,000 to the foundation.

The prime minister has not been involved with the charity since becoming leader.

Trudeau’s last Caribbean getaway cost taxpayers around $162,000, with most of it going to security and personnel costs.

At the time, the prime minister’s office said he paid the “equivalent of a commercial airline ticket for himself and his family” which is “standard practice.”

The ethics commissioner also cleared that trip.

Trudeau’s vacations have repeatedly raised questions about possible or perceived conflicts of interest.

“You’re still allowed to have friends if you’re a politician,” said Dalhousie University political science professor Lori Turnbull on Friday, but there may be “concern that people who are wealthy, whether they’re friends of the prime minister or not, have access.”

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Turnbull says these trips give Trudeau’s political rivals more “fuel to throw on the fire” at a time when the Liberals are slumping in the polls.

We are really in a tough economic time where the gap between rich and poor is getting wider, and therefore the tensions are getting far deeper and harder to repair. And the prime minister is coming off as tone-deaf,” she said.

— With files from the Canadian Press

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