Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's rivals have wasted little time drawing attention to an awkward fumble during his press conference on a scathing report from the federal ethics commissioner.
On Wednesday, Trudeau became the first prime minister found to have violated federal conflict of interest rules by vacationing at the Aga Khan's private island in the Bahamas.Though the Aga Khan had business before the government of Canada at the time, the prime minister long argued he was a "close family friend."
While the Conflict of Interest Act provides an exception if members receive gifts or other advantages from relatives and friends, ethics watchdog Mary Dawson ruled Trudeau's relationship with the Aga Khan did not meet that standard.
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In front of the House of Commons foyer, CBC News' Rosemary Barton asked why it didn't occur to him that a trip to the Aga Khan's island was potentially inappropriate. The PM stumbled in his response, stopping at one point to "reorder" his thoughts.
The Conservative Party of Canada, whose spin masters have in the past highlighted Trudeau gaffes in attack ads, have already cut a clip of the exchange for social media. The party said the moment proves Trudeau "still can't answer a straightforward question."
CBC's The National also shared a slightly longer clip of the exchange:
With the House on break until late January, MPs are unable to press Trudeau about the report in question period. Some politicos are instead taking to Twitter to highlight the gaffe.
"Recalculating," wrote deputy Tory leader Lisa Raitt.
"Watch Justin Trudeau when he is caught red-handed and doesn't know his scripted lines," tweeted NDP MP Don Davies.
Wow! Watch Justin Trudeau when he is caught red-handed and doesn't know his scripted lines. https://t.co/ODZBH5bVe7— Don Davies, MP (@DonDavies) December 20, 2017
"Trudeau sounds like an actor struggling for a line," offered Tory Sen. Denise Batters.
"Keep watching this clip over and over," wrote the federal NDP's press secretary.
Howard Anglin, a former chief of staff to Conservative ministers and former adviser in the prime minister's office, said the clip is hard for "anyone who has worked in politics to watch."
Anglin said in a tweet that the fact Trudeau was "put in this position is a failure of his staff."
This is hard for anyone who has worked in politics to watch. While the PM is obivously ultimately accountable, that he was put in this position is a failure of his staff. https://t.co/b9gqBzHKe9— Howard Anglin (@howardanglin) December 20, 2017
Wednesday's press conference was called about an hour after Dawson's report was made public.
Watch Trudeau apologize for trip controversy: