Trudeau Liberals spent half a million dollars at lavish Charlottetown cabinet retreat to discuss affordability crisis

According to government records, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet wined and dined in Charlottetown, P.E.I. last summer. Unironically, they 'rolled up their sleeves' to talk about affordability and housing challenges, only to bill taxpayers $485,196 without tabling solutions.

Trudeau Liberals spent half a million dollars at Charlottetown cabinet retreat
The Canadian Press / Adrian Wyld
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Taxpayers are livid after the Trudeau Liberals billed them $486,000 for a three-day cabinet retreat last summer.

According to government records obtained by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF), Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet wined and dined in Charlottetown, P.E.I., from August 21-23, 2023.

Unironically, they 'rolled up their sleeves' to talk about affordability and housing challenges.

"Spending more than four hundred grand on a three-day retreat to tackle affordability is tone-deaf and unacceptable," said Franco Terrazzano, CTF Federal Director. 

"Canadians don’t need politicians wasting this type of money, we need them to stop raising taxes that make life more expensive," he added.

CTF pegged retreat costs at $412,000, but further disclosures by The National Post put expenditures at $485,196. "Expenditures related to the cabinet retreat are as Nov. 27, 2023," according to the records. 

Costs at the affordability layover came to $58,891 for meeting room rentals, $49,572.10 for equipment rentals, $35,001.10 to outsource communications and networking equipment, and a $52,394.53 'banquet' surcharge. 

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

"Millions of Canadians are using food banks and cutting their travel plans because Trudeau’s taxes and inflation are driving up the cost of living," he said. "Nothing could be more out of touch for Justin Trudeau and his Liberals than to take a $400,000 retreat which could have been held in Ottawa for a fraction of the cost."

Upon tabulating outstanding receipts and department disclosures, costs for the domestic junket are likely to raise costs again.

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.

Overall, the PCO billed taxpayers $328,825.11 for their troubles.

"It seems like the Trudeau government’s only solution on affordability is to waste other people’s money flying around the country talking to each other," Terrazzano continued. 

Following the retreat, Canada’s top government officials made no subsequent announcements on affordability and housing. Instead, Trudeau patronized Canadians, telling them there are no easy answers in resolving the crisis.

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

The National Post sought clarification but did not receive a response from either the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) or the PCO at the time of writing.

Terrazzano jested, calling it "a shame" their Ottawa offices don't have Zoom accounts to save taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The Charlottetown retreat follows an excursion to Vancouver in 2022 that Trudeau called an anti-inflation summit. 

Taxpayers received a $275,000 bill for the three-day retreat, including tens of thousands of dollars at a café serving up an $88 "millionaire's cut" steak and lobster plate. 

"It’s not an easy time to be a politician," Trudeau said at the time, announcing no new plans to address affordability or housing.

"So yeah, it’s not an easy time to be a taxpayer," said Terrazzano.

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  • By Tamara Ugolini

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