01/09/2018 11:46 EST | Updated 01/09/2018 11:51 EST

Trudeau Suggests Opposition Trying To Score Points On Aga Khan Trips

PM won't commit to testifying at the ethics committee.

Chris Wattie / Reuters
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during a town hall with high school students in Ottawa on Nov. 3, 2016.

HALIFAX — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wouldn't commit Tuesday to testifying at a special meeting of the House of Commons ethics committee about his controversial trip to the Aga Khan's private island in the Bahamas.

During an appearance on CBC Radio's "Information Morning" in Halifax, Trudeau was asked directly whether he'd be willing to appear before the committee. He ducked the question, largely dismissing the idea as little more than an Opposition effort to score political points.

"We have an ethics commissioner that is above partisan politics, to make rulings and to look into things, to help Canadians separate the partisan attacks and mud slinging and the politics from what actually happened," said Trudeau, who is in Halifax for a so-called town hall meeting later Tuesday.

"As I've said, I'm happy to work with the ethics commission. I think keeping politics and partisan attacks to the side on this is what Canadians expect."

Tories want PM at ethics committee

The Conservatives want the ethics committee to summon Trudeau to testify about the December 2016 trip, which left taxpayers on the hook for more than $200,000.

Ethics commissioner Mary Dawson, whose tenure ended Monday, said Trudeau violated four different provisions of the Conflict of Interest Act when he and members of his family accepted the trip, which Dawson said could be seen as a gift designed to influence the prime minister.

Trudeau has maintained that the Aga Khan is a close family friend, which would have exempted any gifts from conflict of interest rules. Dawson disagreed.

Conservative ethics critic Peter Kent has said Trudeau owes it to Canadians to foot the bill for the trip, saying such a gesture would show the prime minister is truly sorry for his ethical lapse in accepting the Aga Khan's invitation to vacation on the island.

A spokesperson for the prime minister has said Trudeau reimbursed the commercial equivalent of his and his family's flights to and from Nassau. The prime minister has also acknowledged he should have taken precautions and cleared his family vacation prior to the trip.

Trudeau's government has had official dealings with the Aga Khan, a billionaire philanthropist and spiritual leader of the world's Ismaili Muslims, and his charitable foundation.

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