Trudeau’s Jamaica family trip is facing new scrutiny. Here’s how much it cost

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Trudeau’s Jamaica family holiday facing scrutiny
WATCH: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau defended his family's recent vacation to Jamaica, where they stayed in the villa of a long-time family friend who's previously donated money to the Pierre Elliot Trudeau Foundation – Apr 18, 2023

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s week-long family vacation in Jamaica over the winter holidays cost taxpayers at least $162,000, and is drawing criticism that it shows he does not “understand the realities of everyday Canadians” from NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh.

The details of Trudeau’s trip were released in documents tabled in the House of Commons last month in response to questions from MPs, but are under renewed scrutiny following a report by CBC/Radio-Canada on Tuesday.

The outlet reported the Trudeau family stayed at a luxurious estate belonging to a wealthy family friend who made a large donation two years ago to the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation.

Click to play video: 'Trudeau reiterates vacation stay at villa in Jamaica was not $80k gift, but belongs to family friends'
Trudeau reiterates vacation stay at villa in Jamaica was not $80k gift, but belongs to family friends
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Global News has confirmed the costs of the trip but not the details reported by CBC/Radio-Canada around the owner of the property or their donation history to the foundation.

“It’s not about, in my mind, it’s not about whether the commissioner approved it or whether there’s an ethics issue here,” said Singh, pointing to the difficulties faced by Canadians who can’t afford private health services or who are struggling with the cost of housing.

“What this vacation shows is another example of a prime minister who doesn’t understand the realities of everyday Canadians, hasn’t lived those struggles, and is not willing to use every power, every tool at his disposal to fix those problems.”

Click to play video: 'Tories want new RCMP investigation into Trudeau’s 2016 Aga Khan island vacation'
Tories want new RCMP investigation into Trudeau’s 2016 Aga Khan island vacation

The Prime Minister’s Office did not answer whether the trip was at the estate of Peter Green, as reported by CBC/Radio-Canada on Tuesday. It would not say whether Trudeau declared this trip as a gift under the conflict of interest act or the code for MPs.

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“As per standard practice, we consulted with the Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner to ensure that the rules are followed,” said a spokesperson for the Prime Minister’s Office on Tuesday.

“The Prime Minister reimbursed the equivalent of a commercial airline ticket for his personal travel and that of his family.”

Trudeau and Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre clashed over the issue during question period Tuesday afternoon. Poilievre said Trudeau was “out of touch” with Canadians who are “out of money” amid high inflation. He accused the prime minister of knowing “these powerful interests are buying influence.”

Trudeau lashed back on Poilievre, saying his family and the family he stayed with have been friends for 50 years, that Poilievre “struggles with the concept of friendship” and that the trip was “cleared” by the ethics commissioner in advance.

The Trudeau Foundation confirmed on Tuesday the Greens, the family CBC/Radio-Canada reported Trudeau stayed with, are donors to the charity.

The office of the conflict of interest and ethics commissioner said it couldn’t comment on any matters involving individuals subject to the Conflict of Interest Act or the conflict of interest code for MPs.

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“The Commissioner does not approve regulatees’ vacations. The Office has a role only when the travel or stay could be considered a gift or other advantage under the Act or a gift or other benefit under the Code,” the office told Global News.

“In cases where a trip or stay is a gift, the regulatee must declare it under the Act or the Code and the Office can rule on its acceptability.”

Click to play video: 'Trudeau says Conservatives ‘out of ideas’ as they press on RCMP reinvestigation of Aga Khan vacation'
Trudeau says Conservatives ‘out of ideas’ as they press on RCMP reinvestigation of Aga Khan vacation

The deadline for declaring a gift under the Conflict of Interest Act is 30 days, and 60 days under the conflict of interest code for MPs. All declarations are posted on the public registry.

The Trudeau Foundation has been mired in controversy over its handling of a $200,000 donation with alleged ties to Beijing. The Communist regime in China has been the subject of allegations of attempted foreign interference in Canadian society and elections, as reported by Global News and the Globe and Mail over recent months.

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The foundation was named in a February report by the Globe that detailed an alleged plot by the Chinese government to influence Trudeau after he became Liberal leader in 2014. The prime minister has repeatedly said he has not been involved with the foundation since that time. Last week, the foundation’s CEO and entire board of directions resigned in the wake of “pressure” following that media report.

Click to play video: 'Conservatives call on Trudeau’s brother to testify about China-linked donation to Trudeau foundation'
Conservatives call on Trudeau’s brother to testify about China-linked donation to Trudeau foundation

The prime minister was in Jamaica with his family from Dec. 26 to Jan. 4, his itinerary from the time shows.

The expenses from the trip include $115,526 from RCMP security for Trudeau and his family. The force said that additional costs are expected to still be processed as the trip occurred recently.

Furthermore, four Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) flight crew travelled with Trudeau. All prime ministers are required to fly on a Royal Canadian Air Force plane for security reasons, even if it’s for personal travel.

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That bill came in at $29,951.92 in accommodations, $3,685.05 in per diems and $40.20 in other expenses, including fees on currency exchanges and ground transportation. Meal allowances were forfeited for the majority of the trip as most meals were provided by the hotel, the documents state.

Also, the Privy Council Office (PCO) stated its expenses totalled $16,859.11.

“The expenditures reported are comprehensive costs for the PCO support role for the trip,” the document states. One employee had an airfare of $3,270.12. They were responsible for setting up secure communications on the trip, according to the documents.

At the time, the PMO said Trudeau would remain in constant contact with Ottawa during the trip and continue to be briefed and updated on issues.

The family’s flights to and from Costa Rica over the Christmas holiday in 2019 cost the government about $57,000 and thousands more were spent on flight crews’ stay in San Jose. The Canadian Taxpayer’s Federation later argued the costs were likely closer to a total of just under $200,000 once all the flight crew and operating costs for the government plane were tallied in.

Trudeau had been found in violation of conflict-of-interest rules in 2017 after a 2016 vacation he took to the Aga Khan’s private island in the Bahamas.

That trip cost more than $200,000.

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— with files from Global News’ Amanda Connolly and The Canadian Press

Click to play video: 'PM Trudeau maintains he hasn’t had ties to the Trudeau Foundation in a decade'
PM Trudeau maintains he hasn’t had ties to the Trudeau Foundation in a decade

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