The former ethics commissioner who found Prime Minister Justin Trudeau guilty of contravening conflict of interest laws for accepting a paid trip to the Aga Khan’s private island in 2017 delivered some kind words about the prime minister on Tuesday. 

Mary Dawson was among several witnesses called to testify before the House of Commons ethics committee for an ongoing investigation into the WE Charity debacle. 

Earlier this summer it was revealed that the Liberal government awarded a sole-source $912 million contract to the organization despite extensive ties between WE and the prime minister’s family and cabinet. 

According to Blacklock’s Reporter, Dawson told the committee that Trudeau’s “heart is in the right place,” and that some politicians who contravene the Conflict of Interest Act do not deserve harsh penalties.

“I feel that the Prime Minister’s heart is in the right place,” said Dawson. “I feel he tries to do the right thing. He tries to do good. And I just think these things have been oversights, basically.”

During her testimony, Dawson went on to say that there were different degrees of ethical violations and that sometimes violations are a result of a lack of due diligence.

“I think there are different levels of badness in some of the contraventions that are found. Sometimes it’s just not being careful enough. Other times it could be quite serious I think,” said Dawson.

In 2017, Dawson cited the prime minister for violating conflict on interest laws after he accepted a $215,000 trip from the Aga Khan, who was a federal contractor at the time and was lobbying the federal government through the Aga Khan Foundation Canada.

The Aga Khan trip was the first ethics violation Trudeau was found guilty of. In 2019, the prime minister was once again found to have broken ethics laws when he attempted to pressure former Liberal Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould to interfere in the criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin. 

The ongoing investigation into the prime minister’s ties to WE Charity will result in Trudeau’s third ethics violation while acting as prime minister if he is found guilty. 

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