MP concerned by prime minister's latest vacation accommodations

Accommodation concerns

I did not intend to write my column this week about Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's recent holiday vacation to Jamaica.

However, given the significant outrage expressed by many in response to media reports about this vacation, it is important to address the subject.

Much of the outrage revolves around Trudeau staying at a villa in the Prospect Estate and Villas resort complex near Ocho Rios in Jamaica. The villa, which costs $9,300 per night, was provided to the prime minister at no cost. It is worth noting the resort is owned by a Canadian businessman who is a long-time friend of the Trudeau family.

One of the challenges in this situation is the conflicting information provided by the Prime Minister's Office (PMO). Initially, the PMO informed reporters in December that Trudeau and his family would cover the cost of their 10-day stay in Jamaica. However, when the National Post raised additional questions about the trip in early January, the PMO changed its statement, indicating that the family had vacationed "at no cost at a location owned by family friends."

This clarification, revealing the significant cost of the resort stay—$93,000—supplied for free, has raised concerns and questions among Canadians.

The primary concern is publicly elected officials in Canada should not accept significant gifts or services, as it may create a conflict of interest.

As a result of this situation, the Conservative Ethics and Accountable Government critic, Michael Barrett (MP for Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes), wrote to the interim ethics commissioner to seek further clarification on the details of this vacation that had apparently been approved in advance.

It is important to acknowledge that the job of prime minister is a stressful one and it is not unreasonable to take a vacation with family around this time of year. It is also essential to recognize that due to security concerns related to the office of the prime minister, there will always be additional expenses for transportation, RCMP protection and other related costs. Those additional expenses are applicable regardless of who holds the position of prime minister.

However, I am deeply concerned about the potential perception that it is common for elected officials to take advantage of free accommodations and luxury vacations provided by friends, especially at such an eye-popping price tag.

For the record, I have always paid for my family vacations out of my own pocket and have never taken advantage of any free vacation accommodations.

I also believe that given the PMO is the highest political office in our country, there are higher expectations and a deeper level of scrutiny on that office by the press, parliamentarians and the public than any other. It is up to any prime minister and his or her staff to ensure not only the letter of our conflict of interest laws are followed but also the spirit of those laws.

My question this week is:

Do you believe that elected officials should accept free vacation accommodations if they are provided by friends?

Please feel free to contact me at [email protected] or call toll-free at 1-800-665-8711.

Dan Albas is the Conservative MP for Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

More Dan in Ottawa articles

About the Author

Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola and the co-chair of the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations.

Before entering public life, Dan was the owner of Kick City Martial Arts, responsible for training hundreds of men, women and youth to bring out their best.

Dan  is consistently recognized as one of Canada’s top 10 most active Members of Parliament on Twitter (@danalbas) and also continues to write a weekly column published in many local newspapers and on this website.

Dan welcomes comments, questions and concerns from citizens and is often available to speak to groups and organizations on matters of federal concern. 

He can be reached at [email protected] or call toll free at 1-800-665-8711.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

Previous Stories