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A tale of two getaways

FILE PHOTO: On the surface, Joe Biden and Justin Trudeau had similar Christmas holidays.

FILE PHOTO: On the surface, Joe Biden and Justin Trudeau had similar Christmas holidays.

REUTERS/Patrick Doyle
On the surface, Joe Biden and Justin Trudeau had similar Christmas holidays. On Dec. 26, the Canadian prime minister and his family flew to Jamaica to spend nine days with wealthy friends, businessman Peter Green and his sons.

The next day, the US president flew to St. Croix, in the US Virgin Islands, with his wife Dr. Jill Biden and his grandchildren for a sun-drenched week with wealthy friends, the Nevilles. While Biden’s trip was devoid of controversy, apart from being spotted with a sunburn on his way home, Trudeau faced a week of bad press over his vacation.

First, there’s the question of who paid for the holiday. The White House did not say who picked up the bill for the Bidens. The prime minister’s office, on the other hand, said the Trudeaus would pay for their trip, and then later revealed that they were not paying the Greens to stay at the opulent $9,300-a-night villa. At a time when cost-of-living concerns are top of mind for Canadian voters, and Trudeau is trailing the Conservatives by double digits in the polls, the news stuck in people’s craws.

Americans are used to a bigger role of big money in politics, so a free trip doesn’t seem like a big deal, says Graeme Thompson, a senior analyst with Eurasia Group's Global Macro-Geopolitics practice. But Trudeau has a history of impolitic travel, so voters are primed to view his vacations with suspicion. Some Conservatives are even asking for a probe of his vacation and how the information rollout was handled.

“If I was team Trudeau, with an eye to the next election, knowing where they stand in the polls … I would have suggested that that was not a politically smart thing to do. When people are facing a cost of living crisis, it just seems tone deaf.”

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