Canadians MPs are ignoring calls to cut back travel expenses, spending more than $14.6 million on travel through June 2023.
As first reported by CTV News, taxpayers are on the hook for roughly $80,000 a day in transportation, accommodation and meal costs for MPs, their relatives and political staffers — representing a 10% increase from July through December 2022.
Between January 1 and June 30, 2023, Canada's 338 MPs spent $43,000 each on work and constituency-related travel — up from $13.4 million the previous six months.
Excluded from the bill is travel by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his family, which would push total costs much higher.
After Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his estranged wife officially separated, their family enjoyed a round trip to Tofino in mid-August — costing taxpayers a whopping $74,178 to charter a Royal Canadian Air Force jet.
Over the past year, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has flaunted his disregard for the Canadian taxpayer by going on several all-inclusive vacations — costing over $678,000.
According to National Defence documents obtained through an access to information request, the Trudeaus chartered a Bombardier CC-144D Challenger from August 10 to 19th, logging 11.7 flight hours.
As reported by BIV, travel costs amounted to $6,340 an hour, in addition to $1,341.69 per passenger. For security reasons, Canadian prime ministers are not authorized to take commercial flights.
In June, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) urged Parliament to cut 'unnecessary' international travel costs following a $61,000 taxpayer expenditure to attend an 'anti-poverty' summit in New York.
"How many people were lifted out of poverty because Trudeau and a band of bureaucrats stayed in a fancy hotel in Manhattan?" said Franco Terrazzano, Federal CTF Director.
Trudeau and his entourage attended the NYC Global Citizen NOW summit to "reaffirm Canada's leadership on gender equality [and] Canada's commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)," according to documents tabled in the House of Commons.
Conservative MP Dan Albas requested the costs in the Commons after posting an order paper question to Parliament on June 16.
Between April 25 and 29, the New York junket racked up $61,383.94 in hotel bills for 40 rooms at the Intercontinental New York Barclay Hotel. The cost breakdown included one room at $1,137.29 per night and 39 other rooms at $562.72 per night.
"Spending $61,000 on hotel rooms is a lot of money, and taxpayers deserve to know the total cost for this trip," said Terrazzano. Additional costs, including flights, meals and other expenses, have yet to be made public.
News of the prime minister's pricey trip to New York comes on the heels of his costly junket last September to attend the London funeral of Queen Elizabeth II.
After months of dodging the subject, the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) confirmed Trudeau and his then-wife, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, stayed at a luxury hotel suite while attending the late monarch's funeral.
The stay at the Corinthia London hotel — an extravagant, five-star riverfront hotel, which included heated floors and complimentary butler service — cost taxpayers $6,000 a night and became public knowledge last October as first reported by the Toronto Sun.
According to internal documents obtained through access-to-information requests, Parliament billed taxpayers nearly $400,000 for politicians, diplomats and other government officials to attend the funeral proceedings from September to 20.
"It's clear the feds love spending buckets of cash flying around the world, but it's not clear what value taxpayers are getting for all this money," said Terrazzano. "Reining in luxurious international trips should be the first place the government looks for savings."
Between May 4 and September 21, 2023, fuel and catering costs for the prime minister and his staff exceeded $1.5 million, according to a response to a recent order paper question.
Unlike the prime minister, all other Canadian MPs must fly economy unless flights exceed two hours or if they purchase tickets in bulk, according to the parliamentary manual. First-class travel is prohibited, although MPs can fly in business class under select circumstances.
Canada's two main opposition leaders also incurred considerable travel bills, with Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre and NDP leader Jagmeet Singh expensing $247,819.15 and $177,500.18 through June 2023, respectively.
MPs can expense flights for themselves, regular employees, dependents and one designated traveller, including a spouse or partner. Included in permissible travel costs is $38,190 per member for a secondary residence each year.
Overall, the Conservatives ($6 million) spent more than the Liberals ($5.6 million) on travel, and considerably more than the NDP ($1.5 million). The latter had the highest per-member travel costs of all federal parties at nearly $60,000 — $16,000 above the national average.
In September, the environment committee urged all MPs to economize their travel and reduce emissions.
In particular, Conservative MP Gérard Deltell told his colleagues that Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault, his staff and officials should lead by example before asking others to follow suit. "As the environment committee we have to be careful when we travel," he said.
Blacklock’s Reporter confirmed Environment Canada ran up more than $700,000 in travel expenses in the past year.
According to flight records, Guilbeault, his director of communications, chief of staff, executive assistant to the chief of staff and various advisers billed taxpayers a whopping $710,913 in travel expenses last year.
"Climate change can no longer be considered a future threat. It is upon us. Canadians already feel the effects, from droughts to wildfires to shoreline erosion and floods," said the minister.
Other travel destinations included Abu Dhabi, Amsterdam, Banff, Bella Coola, Berlin, Bogota, Brasilia, Brussels, Buenos Aires, Calgary, Charlottetown, Copenhagen, Denver, Edmonton, Eureka, Fredericton, Florence and Geneva.