PM's vacation still hot

The two major stories out of Ottawa this week revolve around Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s newly revealed vacation details followed by news of a small cabinet shuffle.

I believe most Canadians support and understand that the Prime Minister would enjoy an exotic vacation to a warmer climate not unlike many Canadians often do so why is this current vacation a controversy?

The answer is a tad more complex than one might expect.

In Canadian public office, we have very strict rules that limit and restrict financial benefits that a Minister of the Crown can accept and directly benefit from.

These restrictions also include gifts that cannot be legally accepted from any registered lobbyist. Obviously gifts have a momentary value and must be disclosed and this includes the value of accepting a stay at an exotic Bahamas private island as has been now revealed was the vacation destination of Prime Minister Trudeau.

The private island is owned by the Aga Khan who in turn is the head of an organization that is registered to lobby the Trudeau Liberal Government.

This same organization headed by the Aga Khan also received $55 million in Canadian public funding from the most recent Liberal Government budget and, as a result, the Conflict commissioner is investigating this matter further. 

I am not for a moment suggesting any wrongdoing on the part of the Prime Minister, but rather clarifying why this subject continues to be actively raised in Ottawa and more so as the Prime Minister’s office initially refused to provide details of the vacation.

Following the vacation controversy, the Prime Minister also announced a cabinet shuffle that will see the departure of the following Ministers:

  • John McCallum (Citizenship and Immigration)
  • Stéphane Dion (Foreign Affairs)
  • MaryAnn Mihychuk (Employment, Workforce Development and Labour)

The departure of these Ministers provided an opportunity for three new Ministers to join the Federal cabinet:

  • François-Philippe Champagne (International Trade)
  • Karina Gould, (Democratic institutions)
  • Ahmed Hussen, (Immigration).

The following existing Ministers were also shuffled into new portfolios:

  • Chrystia Freeland (Foreign Affairs) 
  • Patty Hajdu (Employment, Workforce Development and Labour)
  • Maryam Monsef (Status of Women).

My take on this shuffle is mixed. Government experience is critically important in a cabinet and the loss of veteran Ministers such as McCallum and Dion will no doubt be felt. 

At the same time, adding fresh blood is not necessarily a bad thing and given the failure to date for the Liberal fiscal plan to reap the promised benefits some new ideas at the cabinet table may be welcome.  

It is important to remember that citizens run for public office to help build stronger communities and a stronger Canada.

I know that MPs from all parties are concerned at the current economic direction Canada is heading and I believe we will continue to work diligently in 2107 toward constructive solutions.

I would also like to thank Stéphane Dion and John McCallum, who have spent many years in public office and have both recently announced they will be resigning as MPs to serve in other areas. 

I would also like to extend an invitation to you to come and meet with me.

I will be holding town hall meetings and constituents are welcome to share their views:

  • Saturday in West Kelowna at the Lions Community Hall, 2466 Main St.; 3-4:30 p.m. 
  • Sunday, in Kelowna at A. S. Matheson Elementary, 2090 Gordon Dr.; 3-4:30 p.m.

I look forward to hearing from you. Contact me at [email protected] or call toll free at 1-800-665-8711.


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About the Author

Dan Albas, Conservative member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola, is the shadow minister of innovation, science, economic development and internal trade, and sits on the standing committee on finance.

Before entering public life, Dan was the owner of Kick City Martial Arts, responsible for training hundreds of men, women and youth to bring out their best.

In British Columbia, Dan has been consistently one of the lowest spending MPs on office and administration related costs despite operating two offices to better serve local constituents.

Dan is consistently recognized as one of Canada’s top 10 most active members of Parliament on Twitter (@danalbas) and continues to write a weekly column published in many local newspapers and on this website.

He can be reached at [email protected]rl.gc.ca or call toll free at 1-800-665-8711.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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