Cost of Governor General’s in-flight catering bill on Middle East trip actually $80K: DND


The Department of National Defence (DND) says the total cost of the Governor General’s in-flight catering bill during a March trip to the Middle East was actually $80,367.19, correcting the original figure it released to Parliament this week.


In a statement to CTV News, the department said upon further review of the receipts, the cost was about $13,000 lower than reported to Parliament, and included three dinners, three breakfasts, two lunches and various snacks for 29 passengers and 17 crew.


A response to an order paper question by Conservative MP Michael Barrett, which required details about flights aboard the government’s CC-150 Polaris aircraft between Dec. 1, 2021 and April 26, 2022, showed Gov. Gen. Mary Simon and her guests had spent $93,117.89 on catering.


Catering does not include alcoholic beverages consumed aboard the aircraft.


Earlier Thursday, Rideau Hall issued a statement saying Simon “shares the public’s concern” regarding the expenses and was awaiting further clarification from relevant departments.


DND noted that the Office of the Governor General of Canada is not involved in meal decisions aboard Royal Canadian Air Force flights and that while they try to reduce costs, catering services are only available from select providers “as defined by various airports and local authorities.”


“We seek to minimize the costs of catering options at all times. For example, on CC-144 Challenger flights that depart from Ottawa, the Flight Steward can prepare meals in advance that source fresh ingredients purchased from local grocery stores and, on rare occasions, local restaurants,” the statement reads.


“This is typically a very economical means of providing in-flight meals, but it is limited to flights departing from Ottawa.”


The department also noted that the exchange rate for the Canadian dollar also influences food prices.


During the trip, Simon was a guest of honour at Expo 2020 in Dubai. She also toured Camp Canada at the Ali Al Salem Air Base in Kuwait and met with members of the Canadian Armed Forces at the Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar.


The trip was Simon’s second one abroad since being appointed the Queen’s representative to Canada in July 2021.


“The Governor General undertakes official and state visits abroad only on request by the Prime Minister, and in support of Canada’s international diplomatic objectives,” Rideau Hall said.

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