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Supreme Court declines to hear appeal in Aga Khan lobbying case

OTTAWA — A court ruling today means the federal lobbying commissioner won’t be taking a fresh look at whether the Aga Khan broke rules by giving Prime Minister Justin Trudeau a vacation in the Bahamas.

The Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear an appeal in the matter from advocacy group Democracy Watch.

In September 2017, then-commissioner Karen Shepherd said there was no basis to a complaint that the Aga Khan, a billionaire philanthropist and religious leader, had violated the code for lobbyists by allowing Trudeau and his family to stay on his private island in the Caribbean.

She found no evidence the Aga Khan was paid for his work as a director of a foundation registered to lobby the federal government and therefore concluded the code did not apply to his interactions with Trudeau.

Democracy Watch successfully challenged the ruling in the Federal Court, which called Shepherd’s ruling unreasonable and directed Nancy Belanger, who had since become lobbying commissioner, to re-examine the matter.

But earlier this year the Federal Court of Appeal overturned the ruling, saying the commissioner’s original decision not to investigate a complaint about the matter wasn’t subject to judicial review.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 15, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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