Trudeau’s Jamaica vacation cost far more than same trip the year before

21 March 2024
Trudeau’s Jamaica vacation cost far more than same trip the year before

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s controversial vacation to Jamaica last Christmas cost Canadian taxpayers far more than his trip to the same destination a year earlier, CBC News has learned.

According to the government’s answer to questions posed by Conservative House Leader Andrew Scheer, tabled this week, Trudeau’s 10-day vacation with his family to Prospect Estate near Ocho Rios cost taxpayers $230,442, a 42 per cent increase over the $162,000 cost of a similar trip over the Christmas holidays in 2022-23.

Trudeau’s most expensive vacation to date as prime minister was a visit to the Aga Khan on a private island in the Bahamas, which ended up costing taxpayers $271,000 and resulted in a ruling that he had violated the ethics rules that govern members of Parliament.

Trudeau family vacationed with wealthy friends who donated to Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation

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Trudeau’s office initially said that he paid for his family’s accommodations during the trip to Jamaica, a stay that some have estimated to be worth as much as $84,000. His office later corrected that to say Trudeau stayed for free at the resort owned by longtime family friend Peter Green.

Trudeau has defended his trip to Jamaica, saying that — like other Canadian families — his family took a vacation over the holidays and stayed with friends, and that all of the rules were followed.

Ethics Commissioner Konrad von Finckenstein said Trudeau’s office consulted his office before he went to Jamaica. He said the rules that govern the gifts and travel MPs can accept make an exception for gifts and travel offered by friends or family.

“What we have here is clearly a generous gift between people who are friends and I don’t see why, just because they are well off, they can’t exchange gifts,” von Finckenstein told members of the House of Commons ethics committee in January during a hearing on the trip.

A view of the ocean from one of the Prospect Villas. (Prospect Villas)

According to the documents tabled in the House, the largest single expense for this year’s trip to Jamaica was for the RCMP officers who accompanied the Trudeau family.

While the RCMP reported the trip cost the police service $162,051, not including the regular salaries of its officers, it declined to provide a breakdown or say whether its officers paid to stay at the resort owned by the Trudeau family friend.

This year’s Jamaica trip also made headlines because the Canadian Armed Forces plane that brought him to the Caribbean island experienced a mechanical problem which forced the CAF to send a second plane to Jamaica with a crew to fix it.

Like all prime ministers, Trudeau is required for security reasons to fly in government planes and reimburses the government for the cost of commercial airfare when travelling for personal reasons.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s plane on the tarmac after being grounded due to a technical issue following the G20 Summit in New Delhi, India on Sunday, Sept. 10, 2023. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

The documents tabled in the House report that the second plane accounted for $20,835 of the $57,553 the trip cost the armed forces.

They also report that the mechanical problem the plane encountered was a malfunctioning Integrated Standby Instrument (ISI), “which is used as an alternative source for flight and navigation data.”

Retired lieutenant-colonel Dean Black said the part would have needed replacing before the plane could return safely to Canada.

“An integrated standby instrument (ISI) provides standby altitude, altitude and airspeed information to the flight crew, these being critical data components to the safe operation of an aircraft,” said the longtime pilot.

Another mechanical flaw caused the C-150 Polaris ferrying Trudeau to and from the G20 Summit to be grounded in New Delhi, India in September 2023.

The third government department to incur costs related to the trip was the Privy Council Office (PCO), which provides an employee charged with ensuring the prime minister has access to secure communications. The PCO reported that its employee’s 15-day stay in Jamaica cost $10,838, including $2,681 to stay at an AirBnB.

Documents obtained from the RCMP under access to information law also report that there was an incident during Trudeau’s stay in Jamaica.

RCMP report ‘incident’ during Trudeau’s stay

While the documents are heavily redacted, officers reported on Dec. 29 that an individual showed up at the Frankfort villa where the Trudeaus were staying, wanting to speak with the prime minister.

“Update on (redacted). The individual who wanted to meet (redacted) returned but this time to (redacted),” an officer wrote in an e-mail. “PPO spoke to him advising he was not to return. (redacted) agreed.

“The pics and vehicle info was shared with our partners for their situational awareness.”

The e-mail chain, under the subject line “Comments on X (Twitter) re: location,” said the individual left a business card with the manager.

RCMP spokesperson Sgt. Kim Chamberland confirmed that the incident took place but said Trudeau was not in danger.

“The RCMP spoke to the individual, who left without incident,” she said. “There was no need to engage local authorities. For privacy and security reasons, we cannot speak further on details regarding the individual, nor what prompted the incident. However, we can reassure you that at no time was the prime minister’s security jeopardized during that incident.”

Source: cbc

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