For Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, it’s the Christmas vacation he would rather forget. According to documents obtained by CBC News, Trudeau’s already controversial visit with the Aga Khan cost Canadian taxpayers a hefty $215,000 — almost double than what his office reported to Parliament in January.
The Prime Minister’s Office initially refrained from commenting; Trudeau’s media relations manager told CBC, “We never comment on matters relating to the Prime Minister’s security — those are questions best directed to the RCMP.”
But the RCMP, though trying to account for the conflicting figures, is still refusing to specify exactly what kind of security they delivered for that money.
On Wednesday, Trudeau told reporters in St. John’s Newfoundland that he wasn’t going to raise the question of why security on a private island was so expensive.
“The RCMP provides a protective service for the prime minister and my family and does an excellent job of that,” he said. “It has been the case for all prime ministers in the past and certainly into the future. … I’m not going to question the job or the choices that the RCMP makes.”
The new documents also reveal that “the Prime Minister did not attend the entirety of the trip” but provide no further clues to what portion or why he did not attend.
A Parliamentary ethics investigation has yet to determine whether he broke conflict of interest law during his vacation to the private Bell Island oasis of the Aga Khan, a spiritual leader to millions of Shia Muslims. Trudeau admitted that he flew in the Khan’s private helicopter while on vacation.
The trip has caused controversy for Trudeau because the Aga Khan is the chairman of a foundation that has received more than $300 million in contracts from the Canadian government since 2004. Representatives from the Aga Khan Foundation Canada are registered as lobbyists and meet on a regular basis with the federal ministry of global affairs.
When the news first broke of the Trudeau trip, then-opposition leader Rona Ambrose tweeted: “Justin Trudeau acts like the laws don’t apply to people like him… Trudeau knew what he did was against the law. All he had to do was say no, but he couldn’t resist the billionaire lifestyle.”
The rising cost of the vacation was due to “security” costs incurred by the RCMP that were initially reported as being about $72,000. Canada’s national police force now admits that it spent $153,504.
The RCMP has tried to explain the discrepancy by saying it had not tracked all of its spending when the opposition Conservatives first demanded to know how much the Christmas vacation cost taxpayers.