Trudeau had previously said the ride on the Aga Khan’s private helicopter was his only option — a potential violation of the Conflict of Interest Act. Trudeau’s trip has been under investigation by federal Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson.
New data from the Privy Council Office reveals that a technician took a seaplane, along with 400 pounds of equipment, to the island from Nassau to establish a secure line to the prime minister while on vacation, according to a CBC report.
Interim Conservative Leader Rona Ambrose pressed Trudeau on his explanation of events in Question Period Tuesday.
“Why did the prime minister tell Canadians a private helicopter was his only option when he knew it was against the law, against his own ethical guidelines, and now we find out it wasn’t even true,” asked Ambrose.
In response, Trudeau said he is more than willing to answer any questions regarding the ethics of his trip — to the commissioner in charge of investigating such concerns.
“I’m of course happy to work with the ethics and conflict of interest commissioner to answer any questions,” Trudeau said.
When again pressed by Ambrose, Trudeau suggested it was the RCMP’s decision that resulted in his travel on the private helicopter.
“On prime ministerial travel, as is alway the case, the RCMP makes determinations around what is the safest way for the prime minister to travel,” said Trudeau.
The law states the prime minister (as well as ministers, ministers of state and parliamentary secretaries), his family, advisers or staff can not accept trips on non-commercial chartered or private aircraft, but there are exceptions.
For security reasons, prime ministers must travel using the government’s Challenger jet, which took Trudeau and his family to Nassau. But to get from Nassau to the island, they flew in the Aga Khan’s private helicopter.
Public office holders can board private planes if doing so is required in the capacity of their job or “in exceptional circumstances or with the prior approval of the commissioner.”
Ambrose again asked Trudeau for clarity on the matter Tuesday.
“Is he saying today then that the RCMP told him to break the law?” asked Ambrose.
Trudeau remained tight-lipped, saying only that he is happy to work with the commissioner on the matter.
The charge for the seaplane added a cost of $6,695 to the Trudeau family’s trip to the Bahamas, bringing the taxpayer bill to more than $133,000.
— With files from Global News reporter Amy Minsky