Governors general billed taxpayers $88,000 in clothing since 2017: report

Since 2017, Canada’s two most recent Governors-General, Julie Payette and Mary Simon, have billed taxpayers over $88,000 on ceremonial and personal clothing items.

Governors general billed taxpayers $88,000 in clothing since 2017: report
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According to the National Post, Julie Payette and Mary Simon purchased various items, from ceremonial clothing to a $450 “ecru hat” and $20 T-shirts to personal apparel.

Payette and Simon have bought 200 clothing items with price tags as high as $3,000. However, they did not wear many of those items for ceremonies they attended in an official capacity.

Payette spokesperson, Lise Boyer, told the National Post the former Governor General spent roughly $50,000 on clothing over the four years she held the role.

“All clothes were related to Madame Payette’s function, duties and [visits by] foreign states,” claimed Boyer.

Conservative MP Kelly McCauley tabled the list of all clothing expenses since 2017 last month, revealing taxpayers paid for several T-shirts, shoes, sweaters, a $680 “top,” and dress pants ranging from $323 to $590 within months of Payette’s appointment in 2017. 

In November 2019, she billed taxpayers for $1,064.71 in boots, and in 2020 expensed seven custom-made items such as $2,470 suits and a $1,800 “special order vest.”

McCauley called many of the expenses “obscene.”

After Payette resigned in January 2021 over a “toxic workplace” scandal, Mary Simon, her successor, purchased dozens of items within weeks of her July 2021 appointment. She bought pants, dresses, shoes, jackets and a $160 scarf. 

Since then, Simon has also billed taxpayers for several dress shoes — costing upwards of $429.99 — dress pants, dresses and suit jackets.

“I fully accept there are some ceremonial things that have to be done, and I know GG Simons is buying Inuit-made items, and I’m fully on board with that,” said McCauley. “But $140 for flat shoes, $200 for boots, and T-shirts? I’m sorry, but the average Canadians pay for their own boots when they go to work.”

According to the documents listing clothing expenses, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet did not expense clothing on the taxpayer dime since 2017. The two exceptions include former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould purchasing lawyers’ robes in 2017 and steel-toed boots by Minister of Sport Pascale St-Onge the same year.

“The prime minister doesn’t get a penny for a clothing allowance,” McCauley told the National Post. “MPs pay for their own tuxedos, as do everyday Canadians.”

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) told Rebel News the feds need to rein in the governor general’s “out-of-control expenses.”

“Canada’s governor general already takes a $351,600 salary every year so they can pay for their own clothes,” said Franco Terrazzano, Federal Director of the CTF. The Privy Council Office (PCO) showed the governor general's base salary increased 13% annually between 2019 and 2022, from $302,800 to $342,100.

“Many Canadians are stressed about the price of clothing, but the governor-general isn’t one of them,” he said. “If the prime minister and ministers can pay for their clothes, then surely governors general can too.”

According to the Office of the Secretary to the Governor General (OSGG), the governor-general can buy up to $130,000 in clothing over a five-year mandate. The allowance was $200,000 until a 2021 review triggered a decrease.

The OSGG commented on the allowance, stating it exists because governors-general have specific clothing protocols when “performing their unique state, ceremonial and public duties.”

“Such items include formal wear, uniforms, outerwear for specific climate conditions and extremes, and garments that respect a variety of cultural/religious conventions and dress code requirements,” reads an emailed statement.

For example, Simon wore Indigenous attire during the 2022 Papal visit and the coronation of King Charles to promote reconciliation and understanding of Indigenous culture. She intends to make them available to the public rather than keeping them.

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  • By Tamara Ugolini

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