Despite threatening punitive tax measures against "greedy" grocery retailers to address rising food prices, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Cabinet secretly billed taxpayers for expensive catering at last year's annual Cabinet retreat.
According to financial records for the three-day junket to Vancouver, costs totalled $275,469 for luxury accommodation, security, food, and gas at a Vancouver Hyatt from September 6 to 8 last year.
"Our focus this week as we kick off what will be a busy and important fall of parliamentary work is on the economy," Trudeau told reporters at the time.
"Whether it's to make sure we're growing the economy, making sure we're creating good jobs now and into the future, or directly supporting people and the challenges they are facing around the cost of living, that is our focus."
In an Inquiry of Ministry disclosed and requested by Conservative MP Ron Morrison, room charges exceeded $129,469, with another $46,266 for over-priced food, reported Blacklock's Reporter. Cabinet also hired private security for a $11,533 stipend through the RCMP.
The food items ordered include a $29 hamburger and $45 salmon entrée at the Hyatt restaurant.
Food expenses also included an $8,850 bill for Cactus Club Café, where Trudeau and his Cabinet indulged in $28 spaghetti, $32 ravioli, $24 hamburgers with an extra $2.50 for a gluten-free bun and an $88 "millionaire's cut" steak and lobster plate.
Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland told reporters at the time that she was in touch with Canadian families who struggled to make ends meet due to rampant inflation.
"It was really important for me to get that kind of direct fingertip feel of what is happening with the Canadian economy and what Canadians are feeling," she said.
In the following months, the Statistics Canada Consumer Price Index (CPI) showed that grocery prices rose 9.8% that December over one year — the fastest increase since 1981.
Rising energy prices also contributed significantly to high inflation, as consumers paid 28.5% more for gasoline in 2022 than in 2021.
Though the country's annual inflation rate peaked last summer at 8.1% and slowly fell to 6.8% in November, the average annual inflation rate topped a four-decade high at 6.8% — more than double the previous year.
In a statement from the Prime Minister's Office at the time, they acknowledged that "Families are feeling the impacts of global inflation particularly through rising food and gasoline costs."
"The Prime Minister and ministers will keep working together to further strengthen the economy to meet the needs of Canadians, making life more affordable for families," it read.