Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday February 20, 2004
Cutting back on the GG’s exces
The federal government has frozen the circum- polar travels of Governor-General Adrienne Clarkson, just days after the Star revealed it cost taxpayers $5.3 million for her northern trip last fall.The decision, announced yesterday by Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham, was explained in diplomatic terms.
“The first trip was a huge success,” Graham told reporters. “We don’t need to replicate that at this time, and we’ll be looking at future trips for the GG in the light of what we can do with the GG, but at this particular time we don’t intend to pursue anything to do with the Nordic trip.”
The first “circumpolar” tour last fall by Clarkson — with her husband John Ralston Saul, 22 staffers, and 59 “prominent Canadians” — racked up bills of $5.3 million.
It burned up nearly a third of the $16 million annual foreign travel budget for the GG, Prime Minister and foreign affairs minister combined.
When the bill came in the total exceeded even the government’s own projections, which were around $4.5 million. Coming in the midst of the sponsorship scandal over wasted taxpayer dollars, the tab embarrassed an already embattled government.
The second leg of the trip, to Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Greenland that Clarkson was slated to conduct later this year, is now off. (Source: Toronto Star)