Trudeau Liberals redact info on 'outrageous' $6,000/night hotel bill

In emails obtained by the Toronto Sun through an access to information request, Global Affairs staff responded to media reports on the costly luxury suite during the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II.

Trudeau Liberals redact info on 'outrageous' $6,000/night hotel bill
The Canadian Press / Nathan Denette
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Internal documents unleashed a bombshell on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his government over their outrageous $6,000/night hotel bill in London last fall.

As first reported by the Toronto Sun in October 2022, the Trudeau Liberals billed taxpayers nearly $400,000 for politicians, diplomats and other government officials to attend the Queen's funeral last September.

Invoices showed that most of the delegation's expenses for the trip went towards accommodations for Trudeau, Governor General Mary Simon and dignitaries at the Corinthia, a luxury, five-star riverfront hotel in the heart of London, which included heated floors and complimentary butler service.

Global Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly ordered her staff weeks after the funeral in September not to tell reporters which government delegates stayed in the suite.

Canada's official delegation included former governors general Michaëlle Jean and David Johnston, former prime ministers Kim Campbell, Jean Chrétien, Paul Martin and Stephen Harper, Olympian Mark Tewksbury, actress Sandra Oh, and musician Gregory Charles.

In emails obtained by the Sun through an access to information request, Global Affairs staff responded to media reports on the costly luxury suite during the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II.

Unfortunately, the feds redacted information on who stayed at the hotel suite during the funeral as part of the access to information request.

In the weeks following the funeral, Global Affairs Canada (GAC) discussed how to avoid the embarrassment from happening again, prompting backdoor conversations on reducing Trudeau's delegation for King Charles' upcoming coronation.

In the emails, staffers referred to September's trip as Operation London Bridge, using the acronym OLB — the UK government's codename for Elizabeth II's funeral plans.

"I assume that you've seen the recent Toronto Sun article on the hotel costing for OLB," wrote Davon Singh in an email to Frédéric Huot-Bolduc, GAC's visits coordinator. Davon Singh is an executive office director and head of visits with Canada's High Commission in the United Kingdom.

"We knew it was going to come, but given that it's out and that we know the coronation will be more, should we look into reduced [delegate] numbers or stick with the amount you've currently sent us?" wrote Singh.

Huot-Bolduc suggested they maintain the prime minister's delegation for the coronation.

"Of course, any clarity LDN [Canada's UK high commission] can provide about expected program elements/dates and how many access [spots] will be assigned to Canada would help refine numbers," he said.

In the emails provided, GAC media spokesperson Jason Kung asked Huot-Bolduc for information he could share with reporters about who stayed in the lavish suite.

"I am asking who stayed in this room as part of the Canadian delegation," wrote Kung. "Rideau Hall has confirmed that it was not Governor General Mary Simon. Was it the prime minister? Was it a former GG? Was it Sandra Oh?"

Huot-Bolduc confirmed the room's nightly cost of 4,800 pounds per night, but the feds redacted further details in his response.

Additionally, the internal documents revealed staffers brainstorming how to respond to reporters' inquiries about the hotel bill. 

One suggestion from the Privy Council Office suggested briefing reporters that government travel is "subject to the National Joint Council Travel Directives" and that Rideau Hall's expenditures would become public in the Public Accounts of Canada in the fall of 2023.

"The reference to the NJC Travel Directives does seem somewhat out of place," replied Stuart Wheeler, Canada's chief of protocol.

The NJC directive standard for international travel outside the US is "a single room, in a safe environment, conveniently located and comfortably equipped," which should be chosen from a government accommodations directory whenever possible, according to Wheeler. 

He continued that when they cannot find accommodations from the government directory, "the directories shall be used to help determine the cost of accommodation by comparing costs in similar nearby locations."

Kung later emailed the group afterward to communicate that Joly's office requested reporters give no response to their inquiries about the River Suite.

"For everyone's awareness, oMINA (office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs) has asked that we close without response," he wrote.

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