Rideau Hall has issued a statement saying Gov. Gen. Mary Simon “shares the public’s concern” about a $93,000 catering bill racked up by her delegation on a government plane during a work trip to the Middle East.
Rideau Hall spokesperson Natalie Babin Dufresne said in a statement shared with CBC News on June 16 that the Canadian Armed Forces arrange Simon’s trips abroad and are “responsible for all decisions relating to catering on these flights.”
“The Governor General shares the public’s concern in regards to expenses and looks forward to further clarity from responsible departments,” Dufresne said, citing the Department of National Defence and Global Affairs Canada as examples.
“The Governor General undertakes official and state visits abroad only on request by the Prime Minister, and in support of Canada’s international diplomatic objectives.”
The March trip was made at the request of the prime minister to strengthen Canadian relations with Middle Eastern countries by having meetings with the heads of state, senior leaders, and Canada’s ambassadors. Simon was also a guest of honour at Canada’s National Day at the expo in Dubai and met with Canadian Forces members in Kuwait and Qatar.
The expenses came to light following an order paper question by Conservative MP Michael Barrett, regarding the price tag for eight days of travel for Simon and her delegation aboard a Royal Canadian Air Force plane.
According to the answer issued to Barrett, the $93,117.89 bill covers the “cost of food, non-alcoholic beverages and associated fees, including catering handling and delivery, storage, cleaning and disposal of international waste, airport taxes, administrative fees, security charges, and local taxes.”