Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he’s “not going to question” the RCMP security costs that have pushed up taxpayers’ bill for his family’s vacation to the Aga Khan’s private Bahamian island last winter to more than $200,000.
The vacation was first reported to cost taxpayers around $125,000. Initially pegged at around $72,000, the RCMP’s final cost now sits at $153,504, greatly inflating the trip’s total price tag.
“It is in the case for all prime ministers in the past and certainly into the future that wherever they go, whenever they go whenever they travel they require a professional, excellent RCMP detail,” Trudeau said Wednesday.
“I’m not going to question the job or the choices that the RCMP makes.”
The Trudeau family’s trip has been controversial from the start.
WATCH: New questions about Trudeau’s Bahamas trip
In January, MP Andrew Scheer — now leader of the Conservative party — questioned the ethics of Trudeau accepting a gift from a friend — the Aga Khan — who has business dealings with the government.
“We need to know if it is appropriate for Trudeau to accept gifts from someone whose foundation receives funds from the Government of Canada,” Scheer said at the time.
The second point of concern was the use of the Aga Khan’s private helicopter.
The law states the prime minister (as well as ministers, ministers of state and parliamentary secretaries), their family, advisers or staff can not accept trips on non-commercial chartered or private aircraft, but there are exceptions.
Trudeau had previously said the ride on the Aga Khan’s private helicopter from the mainland to the island — a potential violation of the Conflict of Interest Act — was his only transportation option. It was later revealed a technician had travelled to the private island on a seaplane.
That has resulted in an ongoing investigation by the Ethics Commissioner over Trudeau’s use of the helicopter.
WATCH: Trudeau remains tight-lipped amid latest Aga Khan vacation allegations
In April, Trudeau also rebuffed questions over his helicopter trip by pointing at the RCMP.
“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,” Trudeau said at the time.
When there will be a conclusion on the ethics investigation is unclear. Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson’s term, which was due to end in July, was extended amid a search for a new watchdog.
Trudeau had recused himself from the appointment of the next ethics commissioner in light of the ongoing investigation against him.
The prime minister said Wednesday he is ready to answer questions on his vacation at any time.
“We understand how important the ethics commissioner is for maintaining the public trust and I have always and will always collaborate fully with her investigations, however long they actually take,” said Trudeau.
— With files from Amy Minsky