Governor General Mary Simon of Canada has come under scrutiny once again, this time for spending $71,000 on limousine costs during a four-day trip to Iceland. The trip, which took place last October, was for Simon to attend the Arctic Circle Assembly in Reykjavik. The assembly, established in 2013, serves as a platform for dialogue and relationship-building to address the rapid changes in the Arctic, including climate change.
However, the expenses incurred during the trip have raised eyebrows and sparked criticism. The Canadian Taxpayers Federation obtained Simon’s expense reports for the trip and discovered that her office had contracted Icelimo Luxury Travel five times, resulting in charges totaling $64,799.57. Additionally, there was a charge of $6,474.08 for an advance visit to Iceland.
Franco Terrazzano, the Federal Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, questioned the need for such expensive transportation options. He suggested that cheaper alternatives, such as Pick Me Up and VIP Travel, could have been considered. Terrazzano expressed concerns about the excessive spending, especially in light of Canada’s current inflation crisis.
In total, the four-day trip cost Canadian taxpayers at least $298,353. This includes expenses for accommodations, room service, a “Friends of Canada Reception,” and transportation to various locations such as the Canadian embassy, the University of Iceland, Fossvogur cemetery, and the Reykjavik city library. The Harpa Conference Hall, where the Arctic Circle Assembly took place, was only about 700 meters away from the Hotel Borg, where Simon and her entourage stayed.
Simon traveled to Iceland with her husband, secretary, director of communications, manager of strategic communications, two “aide-de-camps,” and an official photographer. The expenses incurred on this trip are especially concerning considering that Simon spent more on transportation in four days than the national average income.
Terrazzano called on the government to be more mindful of their spending, particularly during times when Canadians are struggling with everyday expenses. He suggested that the money spent on luxury travel, hotels, and international trips could be better directed toward areas that truly benefit taxpayers.
The excessive expenditures during Simon’s trip to Iceland are not the first instances of controversy surrounding the Governor General’s spending. She has previously billed taxpayers $800,000 to attend a four-day German book fair and $100,000 for in-flight catering during a trip to Dubai. These expenses have raised questions about accountability and responsible use of taxpayer funds.
As Canada continues to navigate economic challenges, it is crucial for government officials to prioritize fiscal responsibility and ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent wisely. Canadians deserve transparency and accountability in how their money is being used, especially when it comes to high-ranking government officials like the governor general.