Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Sunday, January 08, 2017

The Justin Trudeau Entitlements File

"Canada has come to share a close relationship with the Aga Khan and bestowed honorary citizenship on him in 2009."
"I am proud to call His Highness both a mentor and friend. He has shown time and time again that no matter our faith, where we were born, what colour is our skin, or what language we speak, we are equal members of this world."
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets with the Aga Khan on Parliament Hill in Ottawa last May.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets with the Aga Khan on Parliament Hill in Ottawa last May.  (Sean Kilpatrick / THE CANADIAN PRESS FILE PHOTO

What to think of a prime minister who exhorts the citizens of his country to take pride in that nation and to participate in the planned celebrations scheduled for the 150th year of confederation yet absents himself for the kick-off? For New Year's, extensive plans were laid for public celebrations on Parliament Hill to initiate that sesquicentennial and people who planned on attending in the thousands, could be forgiven for looking about to locate the prime minister on that occasion, in vain.

This is a prime minister who has distinguished himself through his insistence that uppermost in his mind and that of his government is the support of the Canadian middle class. This prime minister also promised as well throughout the election campaign that brought him to government, that his administration would be open to enquiry, would devote itself to transparency and honourable conduct. On becoming prime minister and appointing his cabinet he issued a document to reflect his blueprint for ethical expectations that his ministers would adhere to.

Since that time, however, he and his ministers have veered off the path of ethical conduct by selling their presence at events that the well-heeled could afford to buy tickets to. Entities that lobby government for favours, others that do business with government, others yet hoping to do so, and those wishing to find themselves included on a roster of familiars are encouraged to pay handsomely for personal access to members of cabinet including the prime minister.

Now, it appears that a questionably unseemly link has been revealed between a recipient of government largesse and the Canadian premier. The spiritual head of the global Ismaili Muslims, rumoured to be among the wealthiest of global royals, Shah Karim Al Hussaini, Aga Khan IV, possesses a 349-acre island in the Bahamas, a well-known vacation spot for the privileged and the wealthy. And there it was that the Trudeau family flew for a New Year's holiday.

When the Prime Minister's Office was queried respecting his whereabouts, not having been seen at public celebratory venues he was expected to attend, vague responses were received until finally it was revealed he was in the Bahamas with his family, but no word of where precisely, let alone with whom. That caution cited for both privacy and security reasons yet also an obvious revelation that were the details to be known they would be looked at askance.

The Aga Khan has a distinct and honourable presence in Canada, as he has throughout the world. A man of culture, an appreciation of history and the arts, a humanitarian who cultivates others like himself, stressing the advantages of a pluralist society. But the charity that he founded is the recipient of hundreds of millions of dollars from Canadian taxpayers. With an additional grant of $55-million in the works, for laudable humanitarian projects.

All of this makes it hugely unseemly and an obvious conflict of interests, compromising the neutrality of the Prime Minister of Canada who saw nothing amiss in accepting the generous hospitality of a man he has been acquainted with since the time his father was prime minister. Justin Trudeau's indiscretions of a similar nature and beyond are numerous and well known, and many revolve around prestige and wealth.

The Prime Minister means to reimburse the federal treasury for the cost of his family's airfare to Bermuda. He will do so at the prevailing commercial airline rate, although he flew, of course, aboard a Royal Canadian Air Force C-144 Challenger jet on Boxing Day, returning to Ottawa a week or so later. For all his talk of concern over the middle class, he knows nothing of middle class constraints.

His planned reimbursement for travel will come nowhere close to the cost of tens of thousands it takes to fly an RCAF jet to the Bahamas with its dedicated crew. Nor the Canadian protective agents' salaries it takes to ensure the security of the prime minister and his family abroad. And nor do the optics of a prime minister seeing no need to act with propriety reflecting his status inspire confidence.

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