Image: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Editorial: And we thought Stephen Harper was ethically-challenged

Kelowna’s managing editor says the ethics commissioner took a bite out of Justin Trudeau’s popularity

While we admit to being in favour of many of the moves the federal Liberals have made since taking over the government (national housing strategy, closing loopholes for ultra-rich), this week the party and its leader, the popular Justin Trudeau, took a major hit.

It seems Trudeau the second has run into a wall and it will take a lot to get him to shake off a damning report from the ethics commissioner, who ruled Trudeau broke four major rules of ethics when he vacationed with his family on a private island owned by the super rich Aga Khan.

The problem is the Aga Khan Foundation of Canada is registered to lobby the federal government.

In her report, Mary Dawson wrote that Trudeau felt he could pursue a friendship with Khan now that he was PM and since his family had been friends many years ago.

However in pursuing the friendship, Trudeau slipped up in the worst way, letting his credibility take a major hit and putting the initiatives he has pushed for in precarious positions.

In our view, it’s not so much the perceived conflict that is troubling as Dawson ruled that Trudeau didn’t take part in any votes or decisions, nor provide Khan’s foundation any preferential treatment.

However, the PM showed a serious lack of judgment and smarts in not being able to figure out that this was a conflict of interest. Why would our Prime Minister believe that it was OK to travel on a private plane to the island when government ministers are barred from taking such trips?

Trudeau argued they were friends, yet the ethics office found they hadn’t communicated for years, until Trudeau became PM.

And we thought Stephen Harper was ethically challenged.

No, Trudeau has not yet slipped to the level of the bar that Harper set so low with his government-of-one, however this was a boneheaded move that puts into question the thinking of our PM.

He’s got a lot of work to do in the New Year to shake off what is a potentially career-defining blunder.

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kparnell@kelownacapnews.com

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