Governor General, entourage amass $100K in-flight catering bill during trip to Middle East

Gov. Gen. Mary Simon and her guests racked up a nearly $100,000 catering bill during their flights to and from the Middle East from March 16 to 24.

According to an order paper question put forth by Conservative MP Michael Barrett, Simon and her 29 guests, who travelled to London, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait and back, spent $93,117.89 on board the government’s CC-150 Polaris aircraft.

During the trip, Simon was a guest of honour at Expo 2020 in Dubai. She was also slated to tour Camp Canada at the Ali Al Salem Air Base in Kuwait and meet with members of the Canadian Armed Forces at the Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar.

Barrett’s submission required the government to hand over various details of flights aboard the CC-150 Polaris – including volume of fuel used and amount of money spent on fuel – between Dec. 1, 2021 and April 26, 2022.

“We always want transparency from the government on what their costs are for international travel, particularly at a time when Canadians have been unable to travel and are experiencing a cost of living crisis,” he told CTV News Channel’s Power Play on Tuesday.

The cost of fuel for the trip came in at $248,127.02.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland and 58 others amassed $57,401.56 in catering costs while travelling to London, Riga, Berlin, Warsaw, and back between March 5 and March 11. Their fuel bill was $195,265.47.

During another trip to Europe, Trudeau and 47 others racked up a $46,018.07 catering bill with $114,255.83 spent on fuel.

Rideau Hall's director of communications Natalie Babin Dufresne provided a statement to CTV News regarding the catering costs during Simon’s trip to the Middle East.

“The Governor General undertakes official and state visits abroad on request by the Prime Minister, and in support of Canada’s international diplomatic objectives. The Canadian Armed Forces are responsible for providing transportation during these visits and as such are responsible for all decisions relating to catering on these flights,” the emailed response reads.

Barrett said while he understands the important work heads of state conduct overseas, it’s also necessary to consider the “level of luxury” they’re enjoying.

“They weren’t on the plane the whole time, we don’t know what their costs were at destination. We’re talking about just what they were consuming in-flight,” he said. “For many Canadians [the amount] exceeds their household income per year and they spent it on a single trip.”