The report of the ethics commissioner specifies how Justin Trudeau collects his work

Photo: Adrian Wyld, The canadian Press
The prime minister Justin Trudeau, on December 20, last

The prime minister Justin Trudeau has no business meetings. He participates in meetings at high level to maintain the relationship “. At least that is what Mr. Trudeau said to the commissioner of conflict of interest and ethics during the investigation directed by it on the family vacation of the family Trudeau on the private island of the Aga Khan, which led her to conclude that the prime minister had violated the law on conflict of interest.

 

The report of Mary Dawson also helps to understand how Mr. Trudeau collects his work of the prime minister and how this impacts on the workings of its government.

 

Some prime ministers see themselves as owners of companies who need to propose ideas and represent the government, leaving the bulk of the work to their ministers or their senior officials. Others see themselves as owners of companies who want to be involved in the day to day activities.

 

Experts believe, in the light of the report of Mary Dawson, Mr. Trudeau belongs to the first category.

 

When the commissioner questioned the prime minister on his meetings with the Aga Khan, where there was a question of a grant of $ 15 million paid to the billionaire philanthropist for his global Centre for pluralism, Mr. Trudeau has stated that there should be no concerns about his presence.

 

Mr. Trudeau perceive these meetings to be “ceremonial” as a way ” to enrich the relationship between his vis-à-vis and Canada “.

 

“The meetings which he attends in his capacity as first minister are not business meetings. Rather, it is of high-level meetings to maintain relationships and to ensure that all parties move in the same direction “, explained dr. Dawson. “The details are settled before or after the meetings to which he attends, or even independently. “

 

Although the role of prime minister is a facilitator, it is always on a mission for the government, pointed out Alex Marland, a political science professor at Memorial University of Newfoundland, St John’s.

 

“The prime minister always acts in a business context, from the time he became prime minister. This is completely ridiculous according to me you can say : “No, I don’t do it as prime minister “, he argued. Ms. Dawson has also concluded that Mr. Trudeau would not have had to attend these meetings.

 

Diffusion of power

 

Mr. Marland indicates that a prime minister less involved allows ministers to become more powerful than others and delegate more powers to employees of the Office of the prime minister. The power doesn’t disappear, but it diffuses between the various hands, including those of employees, non-elected officials that are not accountable to anyone.

 

According to the professor, the idea of making the Senate a chamber more independent would be the best counter-power to the government.

 

The power is also distributed between the hands of senior officials who oversee the public policies of the various ministries. This diffusion of power influence the accountability, since a single person can not be held responsible for a policy and a program, said Kathy Brock, a professor at the School of public policy, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario.

 

And this can lead a prime minister to become more detached on the development and implementation of policies to concentrate on his public image, as does Mr. Trudeau, added Ms Brock.

 

“A good part of the work of the government is painful. It is paying attention to details and ensure that things work. It is there that it could be fraught with problems, as we have seen with his trip in China, ” she said, referring to the recent visit of Mr. Trudeau in China, where the launch of talks on free trade does not ultimately materialize.

 

This kind of faux pas happens when one focuses more on image and less on the details, according to Ms. Brock. “When people begin to see that this is your game, they take you less seriously, or take advantage of to their advantage,” she observed.

 

A friend of the family ?

 

The concerns of the commissioner Dawson were the gifts of the Aga Khan, who could be seen as a way to influence the prime minister, and to give an undue advantage to the religious leader.

 

Justin Trudeau has always repeated that the Aga Khan was a friend of the family, which would have exempted from the rules on conflict of interest. Mary Dawson did not agree, stating that telephone conversations between the two men had been organized through ” official channels “.

 

Ms. Dawson has, therefore, asked if the friends of the prime minister came through the official channels to have a friendly conversation.

 

“When we asked him if all his friends go through the official channels to join, Mr. Trudeau replied that many of his intimate friends to contact directly, while other friends, who have assistants, through official channels,” he wrote.

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