Governor General Mary Simon spent $71,000 on limousine services during a four-day October 2022 trip to Iceland.
This case of exuberant spending is just the latest example of Simon billing taxpayers for her expensive and lavish trips abroad.
The financial information about Simon’s Iceland trip was obtained by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) through a series of access-to-information requests.
Receipts show $71,000 in limousine services from Icelimo Luxury Travel, a company that specializes in “genuine luxury travel life experiences … crafted with flair and finesse entirely around your dreams.” Photos posted online by the company show a fleet of Mercedes Benz and Cadillac cars.
The Governor General was in Iceland from Oct. 12 to 15 2022, for a total of 69.5 hours according to her official itinerary. The cost of the limousine services make out to be over $1000 per hour of the trip.
Simon went to Iceland to attend and speak at the Arctic Circle Assembly, a conference that aims to “facilitate dialogue and build relationships to address rapid changes in the Arctic.”
The event took place at Harpa Conference Hall in the Icelandic capital of Reykjavík, which was 700 metres or a less than 10-minute walk from the luxury Hotel Borg where Simon and her entourage stayed.
Simon also attended functions held at the University of Iceland (1.6 kilometre away from the hotel), Fossvogur cemetery (around 5 kilometres from the hotel), and Reykjavik city library (which was just a two minute, 350 metre drive away from the hotel).
Receipts show $115,000 was spent on hotel bookings and hotel refreshments, while another $10,000 was spent on throwing a “Friends of Canada Reception.”
The CTF says the cost of the trip to Canadian taxpayers is at least $298,000.
The figure above includes an $18,600 “pre-visit” by an unknown number of staff between Aug. 28 to Sept. 1, 2022. They spent $6,400 on Icelimo’s services.
As for aircraft meals, an invoice shows beef bourguignon with mashed potatoes and Icelandic skyr mousse with strawberry sauce were catered. The total cost of the two items was $840 USD (1,110.58 CAD)
Nine passengers were on board the Challenger VIP aircraft. Simon was accompanied by her husband, her secretary, her director of communications, her manager of strategic communications, two “aide-de-camp” and her official photographer.
Reacting to the expenses, CTF federal director Franco Terrezano noted that “the governor general spent more on fancy rides in four days than the average Canadian makes in a whole year.”
“We’re not saying the governor general should be hitchhiking, but surely she could have gotten around a small island for less than the price of a brand-new BMW. It seems like Simon and her bureaucrats go out of their way to find the most expensive options.”
This is not the first time that Simon’s travels have cost taxpayers exorbitant amounts of money.
Simon’s week-long trip to the Middle East in March 2022 cost taxpayers about $1.3 million. Catering for 28 people on the RCAF’s CC-150 Polaris (a converted Airbus A310 aircraft) cost almost $100,000.
Food served on board the plane included beef wellington, pork tenderloin and beef carpaccio. In addition, almost $1000 was spent on boxed water, $500 on lemons and limes and $100 on apple juice.
Simon had said she found the way the media portrayed the catering costs to be “unfair,” claiming in a CBC interview that the meals served on the government plane were “pretty much like airline meals.”
Meanwhile, a four-day Oct. 2021 trip to Germany for Simon to attend the Frankfurt book fair cost $700,000. The latter included $103,000 in in-flight catering.
Governor General Simon and her predecessor Julie Payette also billed taxpayers for $88,000 worth of clothes. The Governor General’s office did not return True North’s request for comment in time for publication.