Musings —04.16.2019 02:36 PM—
Forgive the obscure Star Trek reference. But it fits.
Check out this CBC story: Justin Trudeau’s annus horribilis continues. I’m almost starting to feel sorry for the guy.
Justice Patrick Gleeson ordered Commissioner of Lobbying Nancy Bélanger to reconsider her predecessor Karen Shepherd’s decision not to investigate a complaint about the trip. Trudeau’s January 2017 trip to the island came at a time when the Aga Khan was discussing funding for projects with Trudeau’s government.
Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson found in December 2017 that Trudeau violated ethics rules by accepting the trip to the Aga Khan’s island.
However, Shepherd declined to investigate, saying the Aga Khan was not paid to lobby the government and, as a result, did not fall under the Lobbying Act.
Gleeson ruled that Shepherd’s definition of ‘payment’ was too narrow.
“The Act’s definition of ‘payment’ might reasonably encompass things of value that fall outside the scope of ‘remuneration,'” Gleeson wrote. “For example, and without expressing any view on the question, ‘anything of value’ might reasonably include a directorship within a corporation or organization, even in circumstances where the position is voluntary.”
While the Aga Khan was not paid, he was a member of the Aga Khan Foundation’s board. A foundation employee was registered to lobby on behalf of the organization.
Gleeson said that should have flagged the incident for review.
“I am of the view, in light of the purposes and objectives of the Lobbying Act and the Code and the investigative obligation imposed by section 10.4 of the Act, that the Commissioner was required to take a broad view of the circumstances in addressing the complaint,” Gleeson wrote.
“Instead, the record before the Court reflects a narrow, technical and targeted analysis that is lacking in transparency, justification and intelligibility when considered in the context of the Commissioner’s duties and functions. The decision is unreasonable.”