Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Governor-General Won't Explain 10 Trips to NYC

Wed, August 18, 2004
G-G won't explain trips

GOV.-GEN. Adrienne Clarkson has thumbed her nose at Canadian taxpayers by refusing to release details of her 10 trips to New York City over the past two years, according to critics. Attempts yesterday to obtain further details about the trips -- which Clarkson's spokesman said was a mix of business and pleasure -- were refused, igniting a firestorm of criticism from opposition MPs.

Sun Media reported yesterday that National Defence logs show Clarkson and her husband, John Ralston Saul, flew to New York on the government Challenger jet four times in 2002 and in 2003, and twice this year. The tab for the flights totalled $48,564.

Of the 10 trips, one was for a cultural event and another was for a dinner at Consul General Pamela Wallin's residence, her office said.

There are numerous listings of the GG's activities over the last two years, including travel. But there is no mention of any events in New York.

NDP MP Pat Martin said a Commons committee was given assurances by Clarkson's staff earlier this year there would be more transparency regarding travel spending. At that time, the GG was taking heat for a $5.3-million circumpolar trip on which she hosted 59 elite guests.

"It makes my blood boil that there's cavalier spending going on at Rideau Hall after all we've been through, and I'd want to see a lot more detail and justification for those trips," Martin said.

Conservative MP Paul Forseth said Canadians deserve to know the details of her business trips.

"This is not her money. There is a difference between corporate world and public service. The issue is transparency," said Forseth.

Clarkson's spokesman, Randy Mylyk, said no further details about the GG's trips to New York are available, although he agreed it's reasonable for Canadians to expect to have more details about the her travel.

"There will always be circumstances, even in terms of public events where there are individuals and meetings ... that are sometimes not made public for various reasons," he said.