Canada’s governor general has made headlines yet again, but for all the wrong reasons. During a four-day trip to Iceland last fall, she spent $71,000 on limousine costs.
Governor General Mary Simon spent last October 12 through 15 in Iceland to attend the Arctic Circle Assembly, an annual international gathering held at the Harpa Conference Hall in capital Reykjavik.
The Arctic Circle Assembly, established in 2013, aims to “facilitate dialogue and build relationships to address rapid changes in the Arctic,” according to its mission statement.
The governor general and her entourage attended the assembly to “demonstrate Canadian leadership in the Arctic…including climate change.”
However, their actions during the excursion appeared antithetical to the intent of the assembly.
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) obtained Simon’s expense reports for the October 2022 trip via an access to information request, revealing her office contracted Icelimo Luxury Travel five times.
According to travel receipts, four charges, listed as “GG VISIT TRANSPORTATION SERVICES,” totalled $64,799.57, payable to “Icelimo.”
A fifth charge to Icelimo, for an August 29 to September 1 advance visit, totalled $6,474.08.
“We’re not saying the governor general should be hitchhiking, but surely she could have gotten around a small island for less than the price of a brand-new BMW,” said CTF Federal Director Franco Terrazzano.
He said Rideau Hall should have contracted cheaper transportation options, including Pick Me Up and VIP Travel, both of which operate in Reykjavik.
Altogether, the four-day trip cost Canadians at least $298,353, featuring stops at the Canadian embassy, the University of Iceland, Fossvogur cemetery and Reykjavik city library — each less than five kilometres from the hotel.
The CTF reported that Harpa Conference Hall is located about 700 metres from the luxurious Hotel Borg, where Simon and 15 others stayed during the trip.
Simon brought along her husband, her secretary, her director of communications, her manager of strategic communications, two “aide-de-camps” and her official photographer.
Terrazzano condemned the excessive expenditures from Rideau Hall amid Canada’s inflation crisis, with Simon spending more in four days on transport than the national average income.
“Maybe when Canadians can barely afford groceries our government could ease up on the fancy rides, airplane food, hotels and international trips,” he said.
Other expenditures included about $115,000 for hotel accommodations and room service, with another $10,000 spent throwing a “Friends of Canada Reception.”
The access to information request did not provide the cost for in-flight meals, but listed beef bourguignon with mashed potatoes, and Icelandic skyr mousse with strawberry sauce on the invoice.
“The feds spared no expense when the Governor General could have bought a brand new BMW, drove it around the island and then left it outside the airport with the keys inside and still saved money,” Terrazzano told the National Post.
“It seems like Simon and her band of bureaucrats go out of their way to spend as much money as possible.”