Trudeau spent vacation on Aga Khan's private island
Published Friday, January 6, 2017 12:56PM EST
Last Updated Saturday, January 7, 2017 11:05AM EST
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his family spent their Bahamas vacation on a private island belonging to the Aga Khan, the spiritual leader of Ismaili Muslims, Trudeau's office confirmed Friday.
A spokesman for the prime minister said in a statement that Trudeau, his family and a few friends were invited to join the Aga Khan on Bell Island for the holidays.
"As you are aware, his Highness and the Prime Minister have been close family friends for many years. As is the usual course, the Prime Minister will be reimbursing the costs of his (and his family’s) flights to and from Nassau. No friends were on the Challenger," Cameron Ahmad wrote in an email.
The Aga Khan was an honorary pallbearer at the funeral of Trudeau’s father, former prime minister Pierre Trudeau.
The Aga Khan is the hereditary leader to the world's 12 to 15 million Ismaili Muslim population, with a profile among his followers similar to that of a pope among Catholics.
He's also one of the world's wealthiest royals, according to a 2010 Forbes magazine list.
The Aga Khan founded one of the world's biggest international development organizations, the Aga Khan Development Network. The organization works in 30 countries around the world. The federal government provides tens of millions of dollars in funding to the Aga Khan Foundation of Canada every year.
In 2015, Global Affairs Canada provided more than $46 million in funding for projects in countries including Afghanistan, Egypt, Kenya, Pakistan and Tanzania. The projects cover maternal, newborn and child health funding, as well as strengthening basic education.
Khalil Shariff, executive director of the Aga Khan Foundation of Canada, is registered to lobby a variety of federal departments, including Global Affairs Canada and the Prime Minister's Office. Publicly available records show he's met with top officials at Global Affairs six times in the last year, including International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau and her chief of staff. His last recorded communication was last month, with Bibeau's chief of staff.
Shariff hasn't met with anyone from Trudeau's Prime Minister's Office, though the communication reports log one interaction with a Privy Council official, the deputy secretary to cabinet, nearly a year ago. The Privy Council is the arm of the civil service that supports the work of the PMO.
A spokeswoman for Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson said, in an email to CTV News, that the office knew nothing about Trudeau's vacation arrangements and wouldn't comment on them anyway due to "confidentiality considerations." Dawson is the watchdog for questions of conflict-of-interest gifts and sponsored travel.
"More information would be required in order to determine whether a trip taken by any public office holder or member would be subject to the gift rules ... or whether it would be considered sponsored travel," Jocelyne Brisebois wrote in an email to CTV News.
"If we had information that raised concerns in this regard, we would contact the public office holder or member in question. Commissioner Dawson has not received any complaints about this matter."
Postmedia first reported the vacation location.
In a December statement marking the Aga Khan's 80th birthday, Trudeau called him a friend and noted Canada gave him honorary citizenship in 2009.