MPs demand details of Governor-General’s $218 in-flight meals during Middle East trip

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Yesterday, MPs demanded more details about Governor General Mary Simon’s in-flight catering costs, which amounted to around $218 per meal for each person present, during her trip to the Middle East in March.

“There were eight meals served and the total cost was $80,367, and if you divide that by 46 people, you get $1,744 per person – or $218 per meal – which includes breakfast,” said Liberal MP Anthony Housefather during a government operation in the House of Commons. and meeting of the estimates committee.

“So that just seems out of place to a lot of Canadians,” he said, adding that the liquor bill for 19 bottles of wine and 15 cans of beer was only $113.

The food costs stemmed from the Governor General’s flight to Dubai on her Middle East trip from March 17-23, 2022 and became public after Conservative MP Michael Barrett posted a question on the Order Paper regarding the price of eight days of travel for Simon and her. delegation aboard a Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) aircraft.

RCAF Commander Lt. Gen. Eric KennyEric Kenny testified before the committee, saying the RCAF had “challenges” with global catering on flights due to “very limited choices as to who we can answer” and that some countries have much higher food prices than others.

“We’re going to areas where the cost of living is quite high compared to Canada and therefore the prices are much higher than what we would potentially see here in Canada,” Kenny said.

Tory MP Pierre Paul-Hus asked the Department of Global Affairs to provide the committee with detailed receipts showing how the money was spent and the food menus available on the flights.

“We would like to know if it’s overpriced caviar and champagne, or what kind of meal are we talking about here?” What does Global Affairs choose? asked Paul-Hus.

“We have a period of inflation, and many Canadians are struggling to put food on the table, so it’s hard to see that kind of spending,” he added.

Expenses

Housefather also asked Kenny if the ARC budgets or prepares in-flight catering costs in advance.

“In some cases, we have very little notice for scheduling these events,” Kenny replied.

“Cost comes in, estimates come in, just before actual execution sometimes when we release the contract.”

Housefather also asked what percentage of the $80,367 catering cost was “not related to food”.

“The reality is that restaurant companies don’t break this down for us,” Kenny replied. “They actually don’t necessarily break down the cost per menu either, so what we get is an overall cost.”

Stewart Wheeler, Canadian chief of protocol at the Foreign Office, told the committee that the “standard operating procedure” for international flights, like the one Simon took in Dubai, is to give passengers a choice of two meal options. .

“Chicken or Fish” Wheeler cited as an example.

Tory MP Kelly McCauley asked about the quality of the food served which could come in at such a high total.

“Do you offer a fillet, a trace of a piece of beef? What exactly is chosen? asked McCauley.

McCauley also questioned how the expenses could have been approved by “dozens of people, I’m sure. [are] work on it.

“I have to ask, how did this happen?”

Lee Harding contributed to this report.

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Peter Wilson is a journalist based in Ontario, Canada.

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