It was during Adrienne Clarkson’s first year as Canada’s vice-regal that her commitment to tugging on the public trough made an appearance on national radar. In mid-October 1999, the first-year governor general had flown to Alberta with husband John Raulston Saul for several days of functionary appearances.
The flight from Ottawa to Calgary featured a luxurious Department of National Defence Challenger jet. All good.
However, after dropping off the Queen’s representatives in Wild Rose country, the Challenger and its crew departed on other government business.
Governor general Clarkson was informed that for the second leg of her Alberta tour, a Calgary to Edmonton flight, she would board a Dash 8 aircraft instead of the Challenger. The Dash 8 is a turboprop, 48-seat plane. Not a dog, but not a pedigreed Challenger, either. Clarkson, though, agreed to the 45-minute flight.
The vice regal foot came down, though, on the expectation another Dash 8 would ferry the governor general and her husband from Edmonton home to Ottawa.
No Dash 8 for Clarkson. Instead, a Challenger was ordered to Edmonton.
The return ferry of Clarkson and Raulston Saul dinged Canadian taxpayers for just over $61,000. The hourly rate is $7,679, or about $2,000 per hour greater than the Dash 8.
In 2003, the circumpolar extravaganza, aka The Quest for the Modern North Tour, loaded a plane with the Governor General’s choice of 59 dignitaries, including elected and former politicians, for a three-week, $5.8-million shindig to Russia, Finland and Iceland.
The budget for the federal government suggested tour? $1 million.
A second tour was scheduled for 2004. It, though, was cancelled. An outraged electorate may have factored into that decision.
When questioned about her spending of public monies, the governor general shoved aside the inquiry. She was “above politics.” A parliamentary committee, though, sifted through the bills and determined Clarkson’s office had relieved the public treasury of some $41 million in 2003.
As we know now, since her departure as governor general in 2005, Adrienne Clarkson has continued to bill Canada’s taxpayers to the tune of $1.1 million for expenses. Her pension since 2005 has cost the national treasury some $1.6 million.
This, for six years in an appointed office.
This week’s public unrest over unearned access to the public’s money by a choice few will be of value only if the door to the vault is locked and access severely limited.
I think it’s time for the MP/Senator pension plan to receive some national attention again. You?
“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” – Thomas Edison.
Roy Green is the host of the Roy Green Show on the Global News Radio network.
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