Credits: Andre Forget/QMI Agency
OTTAWA — The Conservative government's trip to the Olympic Games in London last summer came at a hefty cost that the Opposition calls "completely inappropriate."
A delegation of 21 people including the governor general, an MP, political staff and civil servants ended up costing taxpayers $334,524, QMI Agency has learned.
Documents obtained under Access to Information indicate Canadians paid nearly $162,000 for Gov. Gen. David Johnston, his wife and seven staff members including an aide and a photographer, to travel to London.
The cost includes $54,300 to fly the Queen's viceroy to and from the U.K. on a CC144 Challenger military jet.
Taxpayers paid for a suite for Johnston and his wife at the Hyatt Regency, a five-star hotel located in the heart of London. Accommodations for July 24-30 for the governor general and staff totalled $46,700. The bill for meals and other expenses was $12,075.
The Canadian dignitaries were shuttled around town in three vans and two sedans that were rented for $32,200, and the delegation even rented an office for $9,120.
Johnston participated in Canadian High Commission meetings and also met with members of the royal family.
The government also saw fit to send eight Sport Canada officials to the Olympic and Paralympic games, along with Minister of State for Sports Bal Gosal and three staff members. The bill to taxpayers: nearly $173,000.
Economy class flights for the civil servants cost $18,400, plus $55,088 for meals and per diems.
The airfare and other expenses for junior minister Gosal and his staff totalled at least $9,324.
Under terms of a lodging contract, minister Gosal and his staff stayed at the Grange St. Paul's Hotel, a five-star hotel in London's financial district.
NDP treasury board critic Mathieu Ravignat said the Conservative government was wrong to spend more than $334,000 during a time of deep public-sector cuts.
"It's quite excessive," he told QMI Agency. "In the context of fiscal austerity, it seems completely disproportionate."
Canadian Heritage, the ministry responsible for Sport Canada, said the Olympic delegation provided advice, information and logistical support to minister Gosal.
Gosal spokeswoman Jenny Vanalstyne insists Sport Canada didn't use taxpayer money to buy tickets to Olympic events.
"Ministers or MPs wishing to take part had to get their own tickets," she said.
— With files from Serge Laplante
Here's what taxpayers spent on Canada's Olympic and Paralympic delegations:
Total: $ 334,524
# of delegates: 21
GOVERNOR GENERAL, HIS WIFE AND STAFF
Hyatt Regency bill: $46,672
Five rented vehicles: $32,189
Meals and incidentals: $12,075
Flights on Challenger government jet: $54,268
Meals and trips to London for eight Sport Canada officials: $55,088
Accommodations for minister and staff $90,074.