Court orders lobbying watchdog to reopen probe into Aga Khan over Bahamas vacation controversy
The new lobbying commissioner must investigate the Aga Khan and whether his activities should be considered lobbying in connection with a controversial 2016 vacation accepted by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the leader’s private island in the Bahamas.
That comes after the Federal Court released a ruling on an application by the advocacy group Democracy Watch that was launched in 2018 and asked the court to order the lobbying commissioner to investigate, which the former watchdog had refused to do.
Democracy Watch had argued then-lobbying commissioner Karen Shepherd erred in dismissing the matter based on her interpretation that because the Aga Khan was not paid to lobby on behalf of his foundation, his activities and the offer of a private vacation on his island could not be considered lobbying.
The Federal Court called that ruling “unreasonable” and criticized the interpretation of the law that underscored Shepherd’s decision not to investigate as “a narrow, technical, and targeted analysis that is lacking in transparency, justification, and intelligibility when considered in the context the Commissioner’s duties and functions.”
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The new lobbying commissioner, Nancy Bélanger, is now ordered to re-examine the actions of everyone at the Aga Khan’s foundation, which gets millions in government grants and is registered to lobby multiple government departments.
Shortly after Shepherd’s decision not to investigate whether lobbying rules were broken, the federal ethics commissioner found that Trudeau violated multiple ethics rules in accepting the private vacation for himself and his family.
More to come …