Governor general's high-flying ways costs taxpayers $2.7 million in 2022

Author: Ryan Thorpe 2023/08/24

Governor General Mary Simon racked up at least $2.7 million in travel expenses in 2022, her first calendar year on the job. 

Simon made five trips abroad and more than a dozen domestic excursions, dragging along a dizzying array of underlings and support staff on most voyages. 

All told, taxpayers were on the hook for at least $2,784,010, according to a Canadian Taxpayers Federation analysis. The final figure will likely be higher, as the government continues to process costs into 2023. 

“Why do Canadians need our governor general going on all these trips?” Franco Terrazzano, CTF Federal Director, said. “Simon should have the courtesy and common sense to realize many Canadians are struggling and can’t afford to pay for her expensive trips.”

In 2022, Simon routinely travelled with an extended entourage, including her husband, secretary, several communication strategists and “aides-de-camp,” alongside her official videographer and her official photographer, among others. 

The group stayed in pricey accommodations in far-flung countries, including the Ritz-Carlton in Berlin, the Great Scotland Yard Hotel in London, the 1919 Radisson Blu in Reykjavik, Iceland, and the Jumeriah Emirates Towers Hotel in Dubai, UAE.

Simon and company racked up a near six-figure, in-flight catering tab during a weeklong trip to the Middle East in March, and dropped $71,000 at “Icelimo Luxury Travel” in Iceland’s capital city in October. 

Other international trips included three stays in London – the first in March for a sit down with Queen Elizabeth II, a return in June for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebration, followed by another visit in September for the late-Queen’s state funeral. 

The five trips abroad account for a significant portion of the overall travel bill for 2022, coming in at a little more than $2 million. Meanwhile, Simon’s domestic travel last year cost Canadian taxpayers $691,433. 

Domestic travel included a trip to Toronto in May for the Juno Awards, as well as a stay in Peterborough, Ont., in October, where the governor general made a visit to the Canadian Canoe Museum. 

Lavish spending on travel from Rideau Hall is nothing new. 

Former governor general Julie Payette ran up nearly $3 million in “VIP travel expenses” in the 29-months leading up to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

During his first two-and-a-half years on the job, former governor general David Johnston racked up at least $2 million in spending on international trips. 

That included a tour of South American and Caribbean countries, where Johnston enjoyed a $1,375 sushi dinner, as well as a $1,625 lobster dinner. 

Former governors-general Adrienne Clarkson and Michaëlle Jean spent $8.9 million and $9.3 million, respectively, on international trips during their stints in the role. 

“It’s clear governors general get a kick out of spending buckets of cash on trips, but what value are taxpayers getting from the millions they spend?” Terrazzano said. “Rideau Hall has been spending far too much money for far too long, so reining in the governor general’s travel budget is the perfect place for the feds to find savings.”

The CTF tallied up Simon’s 2022 travel expenses by reviewing two sessional papers published by the federal bureaucracy in response to written questions submitted by MPs during parliamentary proceedings. 

The first sessional paper detailed all travel expenses related to Simon’s international trips since she was appointed to the role by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in 2021. 

The second sessional paper detailed all expenses related to Simon’s domestic travel in 2022. 

Combined, the documents offer a full portrait of Simon’s travel last year. 

Global Affairs, National Defence, the RCMP and the Office of the Secretary to the Governor General all routinely incur expenses related to Simon’s travel. 

In 2021-22, the Office of the Secretary to the Governor General received about $33 million in federal funding. 

The governor general’s annual salary currently sits at $351,600, after receiving a $48,800 pay raise since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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Franco Terrazzano
Federal Director at
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