GG needs to explain itself, says Rodriguez

Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez says Governor General Mary Simon will have to explain herself over a hefty bill of nearly $100,000 in catering services incurred aboard a plane carrying her as part of stay in Dubai.

“She’s going to have to answer questions,” Rodriguez said Wednesday before heading to a Liberal caucus meeting.

This is also the opinion of the Bloc Québécois, which intends to ask that Ms. Simon testify in parliamentary committee to provide explanations.

Expenditures totaling $93,117.89 are listed in a document tabled in Parliament in response to a Conservative MP’s order paper question.

It states that these catering services were offered on board the Airbus CC-150 Polaris aircraft transporting Ms. Simon and her team between March 16 and 24.

“The cost of food also includes the cost of non-alcoholic beverages and related costs,” it is specified in the footnote. Related costs include additional goods and services, such as meal management and delivery, storage, disposable items, airport fees, administration fees, security fees and local taxes . »

These expenses were generated while the Governor General was traveling to the United Arab Emirates for the World Expo which took place in Dubai, as first reported by the daily The National Post.

Asked by journalists whether he personally found these expenses “reasonable”, Mr. Rodriguez avoided answering by mentioning that he lacked details.

“I don’t know what the context is, how many people or whatever. She has to answer, that’s for sure, ”he argued.

According to the parliamentary document prepared by the Department of National Defence, 16 passengers accompanied the Governor General. This excludes any member of the security services or the Canadian Armed Forces.

The news of these staggering costs sent Conservatives and Bloc members into a frenzy. Official Opposition MP Pierre Paul-Hus sees this as a demonstration that Justin Trudeau’s government “does not care about spending Canadian taxpayers’ money in a respectful way”.

“As they struggle to put food on the table, Canadians will be very disappointed to learn that there are people in our government who are flying around and eating while making the living of jet set “, he said in a written statement sent by email.

Appearance desired

Bloc House Leader Alain Therrien said he and his colleagues were “really amazed” and “outraged.”

“Such precious taxpayers’ money has been spent in a casual way by this governor general who, I would say, quickly developed reflexes to spend other people’s money,” he said before going to the question period.

He indicated that the Bloc Québécois intends to present a motion, Thursday during a meeting of the public accounts committee, for Ms. Simon to be summoned to answer questions from elected officials “as quickly as possible”.

For its part, the Office of the Secretary to the Governor General (OSGG) responded by email to The Canadian Press that the expenses in question were not a decision of Ms. Simon.

“The Canadian Armed Forces are responsible for transportation on these visits and, therefore, are responsible for all decisions regarding catering on these flights,” it wrote.

The OSGG added that “the Governor General shares the public’s concern about the expenditures and awaits clarification from the responsible departments.” These would be the Ministries of National Defense and Foreign Affairs.

Despite these assertions made by the Governor General’s team, Mr. Therrien maintains that Ms. Simon must come and explain herself to the parliamentarians in committee.

“If National Defense happily funded it, then we’ll go somewhere else in a second step, but it’s the one who spent the money and who has the responsibility to come and tell us […] why did she do that,” he believes.

The parliamentary leader did not fail to recall that the Bloc Québécois wants the office of Governor General to be abolished since this role “is useless”.

The Department of National Defense had not responded to a request for comment from The Canadian Press at the time of publication.

In the past, the expenses associated with the office of Queen’s representative in Canada have made the headlines on many occasions, as in the case of the post-retirement claims of former Governor General Adrienne Clarkson.

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