Democracy Watch Going After Aga Khan As He Could Face Lobbying Probe For Trudeau Vacation

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Desibuzzbc-Banner-Metrics-FinalTrudeau apologizes-ethics2Democracy Watch sent a letter to the Commissioner of Lobbying late Wednesday, urging her to investigate whether Prince Shah Karim Al Hussaini Aga Khan IV "violated the Lobbyists Code by giving Prime Minister Trudeau and Liberal MP Seamus O'Regan the gifts of trips to his island home."

OTTAWA – The Aga Khan could face an investigation into allegations he violated Canada's Lobbying Act by giving Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his family free vacations on his private island in the Bahamas at the same time as he was discussing funding for projects, reported CBC News.

Democracy Watch sent a letter to the Commissioner of Lobbying late Wednesday, urging her to investigate whether Prince Shah Karim Al Hussaini Aga Khan IV "violated the Lobbyists Code by giving Prime Minister Trudeau and Liberal MP Seamus O'Regan the gifts of trips to his island home."

In the letter, Democracy Watch co-founder Duff Conacher says the Aga Khan's actions have put Trudeau and O'Regan in a conflict of interest. It is also against the law to give a public office holder a gift that could create a sense of obligation.

"Your position must be that anyone working for or associated with a company that is registered to lobby a public office holder who gives to or does anything for that office holder… that is more than an average voter does… puts that office holder in an apparent conflict of interest," he wrote.

Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson refused to buy Aga Khan and Trudeau family's long association and friendship that goes back to Justin Trudeau's father and former PM Pierre Elliot Trudeau and thus ruled that indeed the trip, described as a vacation with friends, did not come under the allowed family-friends category. Trudeau and his staff believed it under the "Close Friends" category and therefore it was not disclosed to the Commissioner in advance of it taking place so she could rule on it's veracity before Trudeau went to the Aga Khan's island. Despite Dawson's findings, Trudeau insisted that he considers the Aga Khan, the spiritual leader of the world's Ismaili Muslims, a personal, long-time friend.

Aga Khan-Probe5The Aga Khan is the spiritual leader of millions of Ismaili Muslims and is listed as a member of the board of directors of the Aga Khan Foundation Canada. The foundation, which has received millions of dollars in federal government development aid over the years, is registered to lobby several federal government departments including the Prime Minister's Office, although the Aga Khan is not listed among those registered to lobby on its behalf.

Brand-D-Media-new-001A search of the lobbyist registry shows the foundation has filed 132 reports since 2011 outlining its meetings with government decision makers. However, none of those reports list any meetings with Trudeau.

Representatives of the Aga Khan Foundation of Canada contacted by CBC News have yet to comment.

The call for a lobbying investigation comes in the wake of a scathing report by Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson on Wednesday.

Dawson found that Trudeau violated four sections of the Conflict of Interest Act when he accepted a vacation on the island in the Bahamas and a ride in the Aga Khan's personal helicopter, reported CBC News.

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