Former Governor General’s Expenses Are Outrageous

Adrienne Clarkson has billed Canadian taxpayers over $100,000 in nearly every year since she left office

Christine Beyleveldt // Editor-in-Chief

Adrienne Clarkson’s spendthrift ways have lit the Internet on fire. On Thursday, the National Post reported that the former Governor General, who retired in 2005, has billed taxpayers in excess of $1.1 million since she left office. It’s all part of a program created in 1979 that permits retired Governors General to continue claiming expenses for the rest of their lives. The kicker? Even the Queen’s expenses are on public record, while there’s almost no transparency with Clarkson’s bills.

The Queen’s representative in Canada may only continue to be reimbursed for work-related expenses after they retire because they are expected to continue acting as a public figure. But the amount of taxpayer money Clarkson has spent on herself is outrageous, and at the very least she should be transparent about her bills.

Hours after the report was released, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addressed the concerns, adding that Canada’s Governors General need to be more transparent in their spending after retirement, although still stating that they deserve continued support.

“These are people who’ve stepped up and offered tremendous service to this country but Canadians expect a certain level of transparency and accountability and we’re going to make sure we’re moving forward in a thoughtful way,” Trudeau told the National Post on the way into a caucus meeting after the initial story broke. Funny, our veterans have also given “tremendous service to this country”, but when a wounded soldier asked the Prime Minister why the Canadian government continued to fight veterans in court at a town hall event in Edmonton this February, Trudeau replied that they were just asking for more than the government was able to give.

Evidently that’s not even the case. Global News reported last month that since taking office, $372 million that was meant to go towards veterans hasn’t even been spent. And our veterans aren’t billing for speaking engagements or travel itineraries like Clarkson is. We’re talking about Canadians who sustained severe injuries, and many of them PTSD, fighting overseas. They asked to have their lifelong disability pensions reinstated after returning from active service.

It’s utterly reckless that taxpayers have to finance Clarkson’s lifestyle, while our veterans have to fight the government, for whom they put their lives on the line, for their pensions.

Now $1.1 million is just a fraction of a per cent of the federal budget. That’s on top of the $1.6 million that Clarkson already took as a government pension when she retired. In nine out of the 12 years since Clarkson left Rideau Hall, she has billed taxpayers in excess of $100,000, which deserves its own spot on the government’s expenses record and that’s the only reason it’s traceable. Any payments made out to retired Governors General under $100,000 are lumped together under a single line item in the budget called general “temporary held services”. This isn’t the first time Clarkson has been called out for her spendthrift ways. The only years after she left office that she did not file for reimbursement in excess of $100,000 was between 2012 and 2014 in the immediate aftermath of a Toronto Star article that called her out on her expensive habits.

For such an outrageous amount of money one person is claiming after retirement, Canadians deserve to know what their taxes are being spent on. In 1999, Clarkson toured the northern countries and racked up a whopping $5.3 million in bills before she was halfway through the trip, which was only supposed to cost $1 million. If that is the kind of reckless extravagance our former Governor General is doling out the middle class’ hard earned cash on, then Canada seriously needs to reconsider its unique policy of allowing Governors General to claim expenses for the rest of their lives.

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