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House ethics committee to discuss PM Trudeau's recent Jamaica trip

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks at a press conference in Guelph, Ontario on Friday January 12, 2024. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press - image credit)
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks at a press conference in Guelph, Ontario on Friday January 12, 2024. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press - image credit)

MPs on the House ethics committee will meet Wednesday to debate whether to launch a probe into the prime minister's recent Jamaica vacation.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his family vacationed in Jamaica over the holidays. The PMO said the family was "staying with family friends at no cost."

The PMO hasn't said exactly where the Trudeau family stayed on this most recent trip but they have stayed at a luxury estate owned by longtime family friend Peter Green when vacationing in Jamaica in the past. The National Post has reported the family did stay at Green's estate on this recent trip; CBC News has not independently verified that story.

The House of Commons is currently on its winter break, but Conservative and Bloc Québécois MPs on the ethics committee requested the meeting to look into whether Trudeau broke any ethics rules.

"It's incredibly important we get the truth about this issue," Conservative ethics critic Michael Barrett said in a video posted on X, formerly Twitter.

Barrett said the vacation should be considered a gift with commercial value. Green's Prospect Estate rents villas for between US$1,100 and US$7,000 a night during the holiday season.

"It's unacceptable that the prime minister is conducting himself in this way," Barrett said.

Conservative MP for Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes Michael Barrett rises during Question Period in Ottawa on June 9, 2023.
Conservative MP for Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes Michael Barrett rises during Question Period in Ottawa on June 9, 2023.

Conservative MP for Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes Michael Barrett rises during question period in Ottawa on June 9, 2023. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

The PMO had to issue a number of clarifications about the vacation. The PMO initially said the family was staying at a location owned by family friends, not that they were staying with the family.

Prior to the trip, the PMO said the Trudeau family was paying for the cost of the vacation. It later clarified that, in fact, Trudeau had reimbursed the government for the equivalent of the cost of commercial flights, but the accommodation in Jamaica was free.

The PMO has said that the ethics commissioner "was consulted on these details prior to the travel to ensure that the rules were followed."

The ethics commissioner's office hasn't said what details the PMO provided but did say the Conflict of Interest Act allows a public office holder to accept gifts or other advantages if they come from a friend or relative, without having to disclose them.

In a statement last week, a spokesperson for the commissioner's office said it "does not approve or 'clear' regulates' vacation" but only "has a role only in ensuring that the gift provisions" in both the conflict of interest and ethics codes are followed.