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Charlottetown cabinet retreat cost taxpayers almost half-a-million

Author: Ryan Thorpe 2024/02/06

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s three-day cabinet retreat to Prince Edward Island last summer cost taxpayers at least $412,000, according to government records obtained by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. 

Figures contained within online proactive disclosures, discovered by the National Postincreased the total cost of the cabinet retreat to $485,196.

Trudeau and his cabinet ministers gathered at a waterfront hotel in Charlottetown, P.E.I., from Aug. 21-23, 2023. The retreat was aimed at tackling the affordability and housing crises facing Canadians.

Expenses from the retreat include $100,000 worth of hotel rooms, $22,000 spent on food and drink, and a $52,000 “banquet.” 

“Spending more than four hundred grand on a three-day retreat to tackle affordability is tone-deaf and unacceptable,” said Franco Terrazzano, CTF Federal Director. “Canadians don’t need politicians wasting this type of money, we need them to stop raising taxes that make life more expensive.”

At the cabinet retreat, Trudeau claimed they were “rolling up our sleeves to talk about affordability, to talk about economic growth for everyone, to talk about how we’re going to solve some of the housing challenges.” 

Ministers also heard a presentation from the head of the B.C. thinktank Generation Squeeze, a leading proponent of the federal government implementing a home-equity tax. A home-equity tax would tax the money Canadians receive when selling their home. 

“It seems like the Trudeau government’s only solution on affordability is to waste other people’s money flying around the country talking to each other,” Terrazzano said. “It’s a shame they don’t have offices in Ottawa, or Zoom accounts, so they could do some of this work without spending thousands of dollars.”

The records obtained by the CTF were released in response to an order paper question from member of Parliament Tracy Gray (Kelowna-Lake Country). 

“Expenditures related to the cabinet retreat are as Nov. 27, 2023,” according to the records. “Some travel claims may still be outstanding. As a result, expenditures related to the cabinet retreat may increase slightly.” 

The Charlottetown retreat was held nearly a year after the Trudeau government organized an earlier cabinet retreat in Vancouver, which was billed as an anti-inflation summit. 

The three-day Vancouver retreat cost taxpayers more than $275,000, and saw Trudeau and his ministers drop tens of thousands of dollars at a café serving up an $88 “millionaire’s cut” steak and lobster plate. 

During a press conference on the final day of the Charlottetown retreat, Trudeau acknowledged Canadians are “really worried” about the state of the country and “looking to blame anyone they can for it.” 

“So yeah, it’s not an easy time to be a politician,” Trudeau said. 

Trudeau announced no new plans to address the affordability or housing crises during the retreat.  

“So yeah, it’s not an easy time to be a taxpayer,” Terrazzano said.


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