Governor General Mary Simon continues to bill taxpayers for outrageous items. Among them are expensive junkets to a four-day German book fair and a brief hometown visit.
According to Blacklock’s Reporter, Bloc Québécois MP Julie Vignola forced disclosure of Simon’s travel expenses, totalling $90,615, to visit her hometown. To charter aircraft to Kangiqsualujjuaq, Québec last May 10 cost more than half the budget ($65,896).
The governor general spent a day in the hamlet visiting the mayor, speaking to local schoolchildren, and touring the Kuururjuaq National Park Centre “which includes a section about the governor general’s father,” a local Hudson’s Bay agent.
“There were no official meals or receptions hosted by the Office of the Secretary to the Governor General during this visit,” reads the Inquiry Of Ministry tabled in the Commons.
Accommodation expenses totalled $11,029 to tour the region, which the Inquiry cited as “a lack of available hotels in these small and remote communities.”
According to Blacklock’s Reporter, MPs have sought details of Rideau Hall spending after learning the governor general’s staff misled the Commons government operations committee on the $1.15 million cost of a March 17, 2022 junket to Dubai.
Christine MacIntyre, deputy secretary to the governor general, testified last November 2 that Simon, her husband and aides ate ordinary airplane food on the trip.
“I was one of the passengers on those flights,” said MacIntyre. “The meals we were given are the types of meals you would get on a commercial flight.”
The meals included Beef Wellington, French crepes, fresh and smoked salmon, gourmet cakes and fine wines.
“You got caught red-handed,” Vignola told a committee hearing last December 12.
“You testified you had eaten ordinary airline food.”
The Bloc MP stated that beef Wellington, filet mignon in puff pastry, “is far from an ordinary dish.”
In the same disclosure, the governor general billed over $800,000 for a four-day junket to a German book fair, including the cost of two photographers, as reported by Blacklock’s Reporter.
“Culture and literature have helped to sustain us through these challenging times,” said Simon on her October 18, 2021, trip to the Frankfurt Book Fair, deeming the trip necessary to boost Canadian authors.
She made three brief speeches on her state visit, travelling with 32 guests, including her husband, the Parliamentary Poet Laureate, three press aides, two official photographers and two Department of National Defence medical staff.
“Our story is not just about ‘him’ or ‘her,’” Simon told Book Fair delegates. “It’s also about ‘they’ and ‘them.’ It is open to all ways of seeing, to every means of expression.”
“It is inclusive to every way of ‘being’ because every voice matters. Every perspective adds to our plurality. And every addition sharpens our singular vision.”
Expenses for the junket totalled $801,418, including accommodation at the five-star Steigenberger Frankfurter Hof Hotel and Ritz-Carlton in Berlin, home of a champagne brunch and six-course menu with wine at $200 per person.
Other costs included $19,794 for a Frankfurt Book Fair banquet where 77 people dined, including “prominent Frankfurt Book Fair attendees,” said the Inquiry.
Additionally, the governor general had an RCAF flight crew log nearly 3,000 kilometres so she could attend a six-minute ceremony to fight climate change.
Expenses to ferry Simon back and forth between Ottawa and Halifax last August 23 totalled $12,589, excluding the actual cost of aviation fuel and flight crews. The military would not disclose what it charged taxpayers for the flights.
On August 30, a week later, Simon flew back to Ottawa by military aircraft to attend the swearing-in of a new Minister of Public Works – the ceremony lasted six minutes. She then returned to Nova Scotia to resume her holiday at an undisclosed residence.
“For the return flight to Nova Scotia, a family member was a passenger on the plane,” said the Inquiry. They did not elaborate.
According to Blacklock’s Reporter, Simon used federal aircraft over climate-friendlier travel alternatives.
During the COVID pandemic, the Governor General received a $40,000 pay bump — a 13% annual increase between 2019 and 2022, from $302,800 to $342,100.