Canadians can no longer afford the Trudeau government’s Lifestyle of the Rich and (in)Famous international travel budgets

Franco Terrazzano: Trudeau international travel budgets need to be cutPoliticians and bureaucrats are going out of their way to stay in the fanciest hotels, take the sweetest rides, feast on the most exquisite cuisine and spend the highest amount of money possible.

“The Department of Canadian Heritage incurred costs of approximately $17.5 million in connection with its responsibilities,” reads an audit of the government’s four-day trip to a German book fair.

You read that right. The Trudeau government spent $18 million sending bureaucrats to a four-day German book fair.

“Governor General (Mary) Simon’s personal appearance cost an additional $801,418,” noted the investigative journalism service Blacklock’s Reporter. “Expenses included stays at the five-star Steigenberger Frankfurter Hof Hotel.”

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The government’s defence? Canada was the “guest of honour.” And as guest of honour, “Canada assumed significant financial and operational obligations.”

Have you ever heard of a guest of honour being stuck with an exorbitant tab? No. When you’re the guest of honour, people throw you a party.

Of course, Canadian taxpayers weren’t the guest of honour. The party wasn’t for us. It was for our government bureaucrats.

And there’s a pattern.

The governor general spent $71,000 at “Icelimo Luxury Travel” during Simon’s four-day visit to Iceland last fall.

Icelimo specializes in “genuine luxury travel life experiences … crafted with flair and finesse entirely around your dreams,” according to its website.

It’s tough to tell which part of this trip is the most bizarre.

Perhaps it’s that the governor general could have saved money if she had bought a BMW, driven it around the island and then left it outside the airport with the keys in it.

Maybe it’s that the governor general racked up a $71,000 transportation bill when the hotel was an eight-minute walk from the main conference centre.

Or perhaps it’s that Simon brought her director of communications and manager of strategic communications, and neither advised her that spending more money on “Icelimos” than the average Canadian makes in a year is not the best PR move.

Then there’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spending $61,000 on hotel rooms in Manhattan during a star-studded, two-day anti-poverty summit.

Nothing screams fighting poverty like taking tens of thousands of dollars from taxpayers who have less than you and spending their money on five-star hotel rooms.

Canada also flew 276 delegates to the United Nation’s 2021 Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland. That was the largest delegation of any G7 country, including the host nation. The conference cost Canadian taxpayers more than $1 million.

But fighting for the environment isn’t cheap, especially when your finance minister books a hotel in the wrong city – 86 km away – leaving taxpayers on the hook to pay thousands for a luxury chauffeur service to cart her back and forth.

Last March, Simon and her 29-person entourage spent almost $100,000 on airplane food on their week-long trip to Expo 2020 in Dubai.

They enjoyed beef Wellington with red jus, buttery chicken tikka masala, apple and cranberry stuffed pork tenderloin and pan-fried chicken scallopini in a wine reduction sauce. That’s not exactly, as Simon claimed, “like airline meals” us normal folk are used to.

There is hope for taxpayers fed up with the government wasting our money.

This spring, the government quietly acknowledged scrapping the Department of Global Affairs’ Mission Cultural Fund. The slush fund paid seniors in other countries to talk about their sex lives, promoted a Margaret Atwood book in Australia and funded a sex toy art show in Germany, among other overseas misadventures.

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation discovered this misspending, and thousands of Canadians successfully pressured politicians to cut this waste.

A serious government would immediately cut international travel budgets following recent revelations of extravagance. This government won’t do that on its own. Just like the Mission Cultural Fund, taxpayers can end the waste. But we’ll have to keep hounding politicians until they begrudgingly cut budgets.

Franco Terrazzano is the Federal Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

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