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QUESTION PERIOD — Prime Minister’s Office

Cost of Travel

April 10, 2024

Hon. Donald Neil Plett (Leader of the Opposition)

Senator Gold, in August the Prime Minister’s Office issued a press release saying his tour of the Indo-Pacific would reaffirm Canada’s commitment to “. . . make life more affordable for people on both sides of the Pacific. . . .”

The National Post reported yesterday that the Prime Minister’s six-day trip cost taxpayers around $2 million, with $190,000 spent on in-flight catering. There were 51 people in his delegation, leader. That works out to an average of $3,725 per person for in-flight catering.

Senator Gold, the total price of this trip is not known, so those figures will likely go up. Why is it, Senator Gold, that every time the Prime Minister flies all over to talk about affordability it costs Canadians more and more?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate) [ + ]

Thank you for your question.

Given the impact that world events have on us here in Canada, I think Canadians expect, and should expect, our government to be at the table for these international events, including the G20, which is a very important forum.

The Hon. the Speaker [ + ]

Senator Gold.

Senator Gold [ + ]

Thank you, Your Honour.

Stewardship and accountability with regard to public funds are of importance to Global Affairs Canada, which assures and ensures that public funds are spent responsibly, respecting accepted practices for both international procurement and Canadian official travel abroad.

All of this is public in the Public Accounts of Canada, tabled annually in Parliament and available to all Canadians.

This was absolutely not worth the cost, leader. Last fall, Minister Anand said:

It is extremely important for all of us to be very judicious about the choices we are making relating to travel . . .

Senator Gold, did she mention this to the Prime Minister? Did the minister tell the Prime Minister Canadians are using food banks in record numbers? Does he know Canadians can’t afford the gas to drive to work? This Prime Minister is out of touch, and Canadians are out of money.

Senator Gold [ + ]

This government is very aware of the challenges that Canadians are facing. It has and will continue to put into place concrete measures. With regard to issues of spending, I understand that the government is in the process of a spending review to refocus unnecessary spending, such as executive travel, but this trip, on behalf of the government and the people of Canada, was not unnecessary.

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