‘Ottawa’ 3 Bureaucrats Spent $12Gs Dining in Paris, and we Picked up the Bill
OTTAWA — A trio of Environment Canada bureaucrats ate their way through more than $12,000 worth of fine Parisian cuisine during last fall’s big climate change conference.
Those three alone accounted for about 1/10th of the $129,000 in meal claims by the entire 155-strong Canadian delegation to the United Nations Conference on Climate Change, also known as COP21, held in Paris from Nov. 30 to Dec. 12 last year.
The federal government’s trip — which included Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna and many other politicians, aides and bureaucrats — cost taxpayers just under $1 million.
But documents released via federal access to information laws show that the single biggest meal expense filed by anyone in that delegation was made by Max Guenette, who was, at the time, a senior communications bureaucrat in McKenna’s department.
During his 16 days in Paris, Guenette billed the taxpayer for $4,599 in meals. That’s $288 a day. Just for food.
Guenette no longer works at Environment Canada and could not be reached Tuesday.
The second biggest meal claim from Paris was made by Matt Jones, currently listed as the executive director of policy development at Environment Canada. His tastes added up to $4,176.44 for the 12 days he spent in Paris. Wendy Weise, another communications advisor in McKenna’s department, spent $3,966.95 on meals over 15 days.
McKenna, who spent 15 days in Paris, filed meal claims worth about $1,500.
That said, McKenna herself was on the hot seat Tuesday for what she admitted was a $6,600 bill for a French freelance photographer who followed her around the summit taking pictures of her.
“Pictures are an important part of how we transmit our message, but we need to do it in a way that is mindful of taxpayers,” McKenna told reporters. “Previous governments used photographers as well but we can do better, and that’s something I’m committed to personally. I think there are ways that we can reduce costs.”
A briefing noted obtained by the Sun that was prepared earlier this year for Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion was far less apologetic about the overall $1-million tab.
“This government will not apologize for its position on climate change. COP21 was a critical demonstration of Canada’s collaborative commitment to strengthening its leadership globally in addressing climate change,” Dion is advised to say by his bureaucrats,
“The size of the Canadian delegation points to the priority placed on the issue of climate change.”
The conference produced the Paris Agreement, in which countries agreed to keep the change in global temperature below 1.5 C, though has been roundly criticized for coming away with little planned action to make it happen.
Here’s what we spent on the Paris climate change conference:
This is the intermediate tally prepared by Global Affairs Canada as of late January. It warned that more invoices might push some of those figures higher.
Overall bill: $973,995.42
Hospitality charges (entertaining guests): $12,595.42
Meals and incidentals: $129,423.74
Additional wages and salaries: $11,537.44
Stakeholders (typically, members of environmental groups or industry associations): $72,000