Beef wellington, $230 flowers: More details on how the Governor-General spent $99K on a Middle East trip


Recent receipts from airline catering and ground handling providers in Ottawa, UK and the Middle East show that the field trip actually cost taxpayers $99,362

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Fine dining on china plates, orders of Beef Wellington and Carpaccio for $50 and floral arrangements worth $230 secured by an Ottawa florist.

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Department of Defense receipts obtained by the Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation and the National Post establish the total cost of Governor-General Mary Simon’s expensive week-long trip to the Middle East earlier this year.

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First reported by the National Post in June, responses to a question about order paperwork provided an estimate of the cost of airfare and meals for the Vicequeen and her 29 passengers aboard a Canadian Forces CC150 Polaris to Expo 2020 in Dubai between March 16-24 $93,117.89.

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Days after this story was published, the Department of Defense issued a statement to the media claiming the catering bill was actually closer to $80,000 — a number estimated by RCAF Lieutenant General. Eric Kenney admitted Thursday it wasn’t a definitive number.

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Newly obtained bills from airline catering and ground-handling providers in Ottawa, Britain and the Middle East show that the excursion actually cost taxpayers $99,362, including the cost that Canada’s Chief of Protocol Stewart Wheeler – who was among the 30 passengers on the trip – identified as “problematic”. ”

Part of the output, Wheeler testified Thursday Committee on Government Operations and Estimates, gave passengers a choice of meals – aided by receipts showing meals ordered exceeded the number of passengers.

Instructions from an RCAF flight attendant to an in-flight catering company, including specific instructions on plate breakfast options for Governor General Mary Simon and husband Whit Fraser during their week-long trip to Expo 2020 in Dubai earlier this year.
Instructions from an RCAF flight attendant to an in-flight catering company, including specific instructions on plate breakfast options for Governor General Mary Simon and husband Whit Fraser during their week-long trip to Expo 2020 in Dubai earlier this year. screen capture

Invoices from GateGourmet at Ottawa Airport show that CAF paid $7,657.06 to store the aircraft for the first leg of the journey, which operated as Flight CFC3147 to London Stansfield Airport to pick up the Governor General, who was already in the UK.

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That bill included $230 in floral arrangements, $984 in flow boxes of water, $165 in lemon and lime slices, and $128 for an unspecified number of cases of Perrier water .

In most cases, quantities and unit prices on the invoices were made unrecognizable by the DND.

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For lunch, the flight’s 24 passengers had a choice of chicken tikka masala or apple-stuffed pork tenderloin with roasted pumpkin and sautéed Brussels sprouts — plus salad and dessert.

After the Viceroy and seven other people boarded the plane in London, AEG Aviation Services charged the RCAF $41,408.39 for servicing the plane – including £392 (CAD$579.40) to hire an explosives detection dog.

Quantities and unit prices have been redacted for all but one item – £75 ($110) for four liters of apple juice.

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The bill also showed £150 ($221.67) for an unknown amount of orange juice and £62 ($91.59) for cranberry juice.

On the seven-hour flight to Dubai, passengers could choose omelettes or crepes for breakfast and either chicken scallopini in a creamy mushroom and white wine reduction or beef wellington for lunch.

Instructions for the Governor-General’s meals (referred to in correspondence as “VVIP” (very, very important person)) included shifting her food to china plates, “with proper garnish.”

A redacted bill for ground services expenses for one leg of the Governor-General's week-long trip to the Middle East for Expo 2020 in Dubai earlier this year.  Unit costs and quantities have been edited prior to publication.
A redacted bill for ground services expenses for one leg of the Governor-General’s week-long trip to the Middle East for Expo 2020 in Dubai earlier this year. Unit costs and quantities have been edited prior to publication. screen capture

To prepare for its March 20 departure from Dubai, Monaco-based airline Luxavia charged CAD$16,276.75 to replenish the plane with meal options such as beef carpaccio, linguine and roasted vegetables.

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A “special request” listed 188 euros ($247) for arugula and wild rice salad, plus a 250 euros ($329.22) “concierge fee” for a shopping spree to purchase ingredients.

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It also charged €400 ($526.76) for a redacted quantity of lemons and limes, €420 ($552.99) for an unknown quantity of ice cream, and €2,097 ($2,761) in “packaging fees”.

Breakfast on the 30-minute flight from Dubai to Doha to meet the Emir of Qatar was a light affair for passengers, consisting of “to-go bags” of yogurt or smoked salmon bagels.

For Simon and husband Whit Fraser, breakfast consisted of a choice of masala omelette with chicken sausage and hash browns or scrambled eggs with turkey sausage and hash browns.

During their stopover in Kuwait on March 23 to tour Ali Al Salem Air Force Base, the aircraft was restocked for $9,668.17.

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Passengers could choose between grilled salmon with lemon butter or ratatouille with tomato sauce for the flight to London Heathrow, the last stop before home.

The plane took on additional services worth $12,000 from Royalblue Catering in London.

Details of the menu were not included in the documents, but provisions included £3,190 ($4,715.59) in meals, £608 ($898.77) in crew snacks, £1,634 ($2,415) in passenger snacks and 90 pounds ($133.04) for two kilograms of wet ice.

Franco Terrazzano, federal director of the CTF, was puzzled by the different figures offered as the total cost of the trip.

“It’s bad enough that the governor-general has amassed nearly six figures for plane meals, but it gets worse because the government can’t get its story straight on how much money was spent,” he said.

“Taxpayers deserve proactive transparency on all governor-general spending.”

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