“Let them eat cake.”
Legend attributes these words to French Princess Marie Antoinette. When told her people had no bread and were starving, Antoinette is purported to have given the callous reply. Whether fact or fiction, this phrase has become synonymous with those who are rich, powerful, and completely out of touch with the plight of normal people. Enter Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his latest handpicked Governor General.
As Canadians struggle to tighten their belts to adapt to runaway inflation, the PM and GG continue to jet set around the globe racking up enormous expenses on the backs of the taxpayer.
I recognize that government leaders and officials need to travel to do their jobs, and that when it comes to government and military travel there are added costs. However, at a time when Canadian families are struggling to make ends meet – and with the virtual capabilities developed over the past two years – the government should be making more of an effort to determine what is essential government travel and what is not.
It was reported last week that on a recent eight-day trip to Expo 2020 in Dubai, Governor General Mary Simon racked up an astounding $80,367.19 inflight catering tab. Simon and her entourage of 45 people averaged $10,000 per day just on meals.
The fuel cost to fly the GG was $248,127.02 – the aging government aircraft burns roughly 10,000 lbs. of fuel per hour.
Add those two together, plus the cost of staff and crew, security, accommodations and transportation, the total cost of this one trip likely exceeded $500,000.
My first question is why the Vice Regal made this trip in the first place?
The United Arab Emirates is not part of the Commonwealth. This was not a diplomatic or trade mission. It was far from essential that the GG be in Dubai.
Second, one would think that after the controversies created by her predecessors, the Vice Regal would be more self-aware, so as to mitigate such avoidable (and costly) PR blunders.
The reality is the cost of catering this one non-essential trip could have fed eight Canadian families for an entire year.
At a time when food prices have nearly one quarter of Canadians skipping meals, to hear the GG say she is concerned about the affect inflation is having on Canadians comes across about as genuine as the PM who recommended her.
Similar data has come to light of late from Justin Trudeau’s own travels.
On his last international trip before COVID-19, the Prime Minister and his 50 guests consumed 95 bottles of wine and 93 cans of beer at a cost to the taxpayer of over $1,400 – roughly the cost of a family’s monthly food budget.
Earlier this week, I asked the government if they would please consider suspending the GST on fuel to offer Canadians a bit of relief as they struggle to pay for gas and groceries. The government’s response was to brag about their credit rating. Talk about out of touch.
In fact, in her much-anticipated speech on fighting inflation, Deputy PM & Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland’s “solution” to inflation is to pump an additional $8.9 billion of deficit spending into the economy. In other words, keep doing the very thing that led to inflation in the first place and hope it helps – it won’t.
Needless to say, it is difficult to take this government seriously when they claim to be concerned about the rising cost of gas and groceries when they continue to travel and spend like there’s no tomorrow.
In short, their actions scream, “let them eat cake”.