Irony: Liberals blow $1.3M on three 'affordability' retreats

A Liberal spokesperson explained the taxpayer-funded junkets were an 'opportunity to solve challenges on behalf of Canadians.' However, the trio of meetings resulted in no policy announcements.

Trudeau Liberals ironically spend $1.3 million on three 'affordability retreats'
The Canadian Press / Adrian Wyld
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The Trudeau Liberals ironically spent $1.3 million on cabinet retreats to address Canada’s affordability crisis — resulting in no subsequent policy announcements.

Since September 2022, the federal government has held three multi-day junkets in Charlottetown, P.E.I., Vancouver, B.C. and Hamilton, Ont., costing taxpayers $1,325,233.84, according to expense disclosures.

"It’s not an easy time to be a politician," Prime Minister Trudeau said last August in Charlottetown, as his government 'rolled up their sleeves' to discuss affordability.

Although Canada’s inflation rate fell last month from 3.3% to 2.9%, high grocery bills, out of control interest rates and fluctuating energy costs continue to hammer taxpayers.

"At the very least, maybe Trudeau should consider renaming his affordability retreats," said Franco Terrazzano, federal director with the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF). "Who in their right mind spends more than $1 million on 'affordability' retreats in one year while Canadians are struggling?" he added.

According to the CTF, Canadians want less government waste and more tax relief to make life more affordable. "So yeah, it’s not an easy time to be a taxpayer," said Terrazzano.

The Trudeau Liberals billed taxpayers $485,196 for a three-day cabinet retreat in the Maritimes last summer, according to government records obtained by the taxpayers’ group.

CTF pegged retreat costs at $412,000, with further disclosures by the National Post increasing summit expenditures. Additional hikes are expected upon tabulating outstanding receipts.

Costs at the affordability layover came to $58,891 for meeting room rentals, $49,572.10 for equipment rentals, and a $52,394.53 'banquet' surcharge. 

Preliminary tallies for the five government ministers who oversee the Privy Council Office (PCO), including the prime minister, reached $160,467.17, as first reported by the National Post. Their hotel costs came to $100,922.51, in addition to $36,277.55 on airfare.

"We are looking forward to continuing the work we’ve been doing on housing and doing even more," Trudeau told reporters at the time. "We recognize and Canadians know that there’s not one silver bullet that’s going to solve the housing challenges."

A PCO spokesperson clarified the affordability junkets provide ministers with an opportunity to solve nagging challenges on behalf of Canadians.

"These retreats serve as working sessions where ministers engage in discussions and collaboratively develop strategic approaches to effectively advance the government’s priorities," the spokesperson told the Post.

But Conservative ethics critic Michael Barrett called the expense "unnecessary" and "insensitive."

"In a slap to the face of Canadians struggling to make ends meet, the Liberals have spent over $1 million on their so-called affordability retreats producing no results," he said.

The Charlottetown retreat follows an excursion to Hamilton last January, where ministers and their staff billed taxpayers $50,033.25 to book 67 rooms for government officials.

Hospitality charges at the Hamilton Convention Centre cost $32,772.42, including $1,813.50 breakfast buffets, $3,700 lunch and dinner buffets, $311 fresh fruit platters and $250 cheese boards. The Trudeau Liberals also racked up $71,822.00 in communications services, $26,668.75 for equipment rentals, and $25,093.45 in security costs.

Trudeau also charged taxpayers a $275,469 bill for a three-day 'anti-inflation summit' in Vancouver, as reported by Blacklock’s Reporter. Further disclosures increased costs to $471,070.84.

That included tens of thousands of dollars in food costs with patrons dining on an $88 ‘millionaire's cut’ steak and lobster plate at the Hyatt Regency and a $9,225 private dinner at Cactus Club.

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