Feds spend $1.5 million on hotel rooms during UN summit in Montreal

Author: Ryan Thorpe 2023/11/14

Taxpayers picked up the $1.5-million tab for 400 people to attend a two-week United Nations summit in Montreal last December.

That’s according to government records released in response to an order paper question from Conservative MP Eric Melillo (Kenora), and additional information confirmed by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. 

The $1.5 million was spent on hotel rooms for the “approximately” 400-person delegation Canada sent to the UN Biodiversity Conference in Montreal on Dec. 7-19, 2022, also known as COP15. 

“Did the feds really need to send 400 people to Montreal for a conference?” said Franco Terrazzano, CTF Federal Director. “Canadians pay an obscene amount of money when our politicians and bureaucrats travel abroad, and now we learn we also pay an arm and a leg when we host a conference at home.” 

Environment and Climate Change Canada confirmed total spending on hotel rooms was even higher than $1.5 million, but said it lacks the resources to tally up the full bill. 

“There were also other costs for hotel rooms that were booked directly by travellers and reimbursed by ECCC,” the agency wrote. “It would require a significant amount of time and effort to locate and analyze the supporting documentation of each travel request and manually extract the requested information.”

The rooms were booked at two downtown hotels, Le Westin Montreal and the Intercontinental Montreal, costing taxpayers $1,539,052. 

“It seems like all you have to do to get a taxpayer-funded hotel room is show up,” Terrazzano said. “At a time when so many taxpayers are struggling to make ends meet, it’s outrageous the government is spending so much money at a conference in our own backyard.” 

This isn’t the first time lavish spending by Canadian politicians and bureaucrats during a UN climate conference has raised eyebrows. 

In 2021, Canada sent the largest delegation of all G7 countries to the COP26 Conference on Climate Change in Glasgow, Scotland. At least $1 million in taxpayer funds went towards the trip, although full costs were not released by the government. 

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland and three support staff managed to book hotels in the wrong city – 86 kilometres away, in Edinburgh. As a result, they billed taxpayers thousands of dollars to hire a luxury chauffeur service to shuttle them between the two cities.  

“It’s clear politicians and bureaucrats love spending other people’s money going to conferences in fun cities, but what value are taxpayers getting from all this spending?” Terrazzano said. “The feds are more than $1 trillion in debt and Canadians can’t afford higher taxes, so reining in their conference budgets should be a no brainer.”

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