The Department of Environment pledged in March to cut costs when attending the next conference on 'climate change' after racking up exorbitant fees at the expense of taxpayers in recent years.
"Our goal is always to keep the costs at a minimum, if possible, for such an event," Chris Forbes, the deputy environment minister, testified at the Commons environment committee. "We'll look at the options concerning hotels and costs."
At the UN Biodiversity Conference in Montreal (COP15) last December 7 thru the 19th, taxpayers picked up a $1.5 million tab for 400 people to attend the summit, according to government records, and additional information confirmed by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF).
"Canadians pay an obscene amount of money when our politicians and bureaucrats travel abroad, and now we learn we also pay an arm and a leg when we host a conference at home," said CTF Federal Director Franco Terrazzano.
The feds booked reservations at Le Westin Montreal and the Intercontinental Montreal, costing taxpayers a whopping $1,539,052.
"It seems like all you have to do to get a taxpayer-funded hotel room is show up," he said.
However, those tallies do not reflect the entire cost to taxpayers, according to Environment Canada.
"There were also other costs for hotel rooms that were booked directly by travellers and reimbursed by ECCC," wrote the agency. "It would require a significant amount of time and effort to locate and analyze the supporting documentation of each travel request and manually extract the requested information."
In an Inquiry of Environment Canada, sending a 266-member Canadian delegation to a U.N. Conference on Climate Change in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, last November 6 to 18th, cost taxpayers $1.8 million. Among the attendees include 53 staffers from Environment Canada.
Rebel News learned that accommodations cost taxpayers $1,077,126.40 for the conference through an access-to-information request.
According to Blacklock's Reporter, delegates spent a fortune on airfares at the U.N. climate conference in November while booking a hotel with a disco, camel rides and room rates upwards of US$1,270 a night. Other costs included $622,000 for airfares and $27,000 for meals.
The finances reflect the costs incurred by different government departments as of last November 21. Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault clarified those amounts do not reflect final costs.
"What measures will be taken to ensure we don't spend exorbitant amounts?" asked Conservative MP Gérard Deltell. "One million dollars for hotel rooms in Egypt is a lot of money."
The MP contends "a lot of people are very concerned with the environmental footprint when we travel," suggesting the conference could have been hosted through an online forum.
In 2021, the federal government again spent north of $1 million at a climate summit, sending 277 delegates to the COP26 Conference on Climate Change in Glasgow, Scotland. And again, full costs have not been publicly disclosed.
At the time, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland and three support staff booked hotels in Edinburgh, 86 kilometres from the summit. As a result, they billed taxpayers thousands of dollars to hire a luxury chauffeur service to shuttle them between the two cities.
"It’s clear politicians and bureaucrats love spending other people’s money going to conferences in fun cities, but what value are taxpayers getting from all this spending?" posed Terrazzano. "The feds are more than $1 trillion in debt and Canadians can’t afford higher taxes, so reining in their conference budgets should be a no brainer," he added.
In September, the environment committee urged all members to economize their travel and reduce emissions.
Deltell told his colleagues that 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, reported Blacklock’s Reporter.