We are getting used to the Trudeau vanity projects, aren’t we?
The call for more personal help, a team for his wife, the nannies that he used to pay for now coming from our pockets and of course the trip to Washington so that Justin Trudeau could explore his bromance with US President Barack Obama.
That trip to DC saw Trudeau take 44 different people including his in-laws but not his Natural Resource Minister. I mean, why bring the guy central to files such as oil pipelines or the softwood lumber deal when your mother, your in-laws, and even Liberal Party President Anna Gainey and Liberal bagman Stephen Bronfman needed tickets?
Well if you think the big tab for Mr. Trudeau to go to Washington was tough to swallow, wait until you have to pay for Mr. Obama to come to Ottawa.
To be clear, this will not be President Obama’s first trip to Canada or to Ottawa. In fact his first official visit after being elected President was to Ottawa.
I was there on the front lawn of Parliament that snowy February day in 2009 when people built giant snowballs so they could climb up and see Obama as he arrived. I was in the room as he gave his joint news conference with Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
President Obama has visited Canada many times.
But come June 29th, we, the taxpayers of Canada, will pay through the nose so President Obama and Prime Minister Trudeau can continue their bromance.
President Obama is scheduled to deliver a speech to a joint session of Parliament, meaning the MPs assembled in the House of Commons plus Senators, members of the Supreme Court and other assorted hangers on.
That speech on June 29th will come at least one week, if not more, after the House of Commons has risen for the summer and MPs have returned home.
Every year, MPs go home for the summer for many reasons. For one, voters want to see their MPs in their home ridings but also, the House of Commons is an old building which means the chamber doesn’t have air conditioning. Trust me when I say it gets hot and rank in there when they sit too far into the summer.
The House calendar generally stops before June 23, the day before the St. Jean Baptiste festival in Quebec or as they call it now, Fête National. Whatever you call it, Quebec MPs need to show their faces back home if they want to continue being Quebec MPs.
So the House of Commons is normally long gone before June 23. In fact, I only recall one instance since I started covering the Hill full time in 2005 when MPs sat past that date and that was in 2005.
So what does this have to do with Obama and his speech to Parliament?
Well, with Parliament not sitting, MPs will head home to their ridings to see and interact with the voters that sent them to Ottawa. Regardless of party, this is what MPs do. But then a week or so later these same MPs will be called back to Ottawa to listen to the speech of an outgoing lame duck president. Why?
For the Trudeau and Obama bromance to continue.
Does Obama need to address Parliament? No. In fact he’s coming for the Three Amigos summit – meaning Canada, the US and Mexico - and while Obama addresses Parliament, Mexican President Enrique Nieto – AKA the Mexican McDreamy – will be sitting on the sidelines.
He’s not addressing Parliament and he, unlike Obama, has some political life left in him.
But really, this isn’t Obama’s problem, it’s Trudeau’s problem. Trudeau invited Obama to speak to a joint session of Parliament at a time when neither the House nor Senate was sitting.
How does that affect you?
Well, take 337 MPs plus 87 senators and figure out how much it will cost them to travel back to Ottawa and then high tail it back home to be in their home ridings for Canada Day.
One western MP who represents a major centre told me that his trip would cost on average $1,200. That’s without the cost of hotels, meals, per diems and any other associated costs. For MPs from remote areas, like many on the east coast, the west, and rural areas, getting home and back costs even more.
Multiply that by 337 MPs, 87 Senators and its starts to add up.
Just to get all the MPs back to Ottawa to hear Obama speak could amount to more than half a million dollars. And that’s before the Liberals spend a single dollar of your money on receptions to fête President Obama.
Add in hotel fees, meal costs and any other expenses that MPs and Senators are rightfully entitled to when summoned to Ottawa, and we’re looking at a very large bill.
A recent story about Australia recalling their Parliament for just two days put the tally at $1.4 million Australian dollars or $1.3 million Canadian dollars.
Some opposition MPs are balking at the cost, especially given that Obama is on his way out but none want to speak out lest they offend the Americans or are perceived as partisan.
Foreign leaders visit our country all the time without giving an address to Parliament. Calling all MPs back to hear a lame duck president speak is not about what’s good for Canada or Canada–US relations. It’s about Trudeau and his vanity, his bromance with Obama.
I’d say MPs should stay away but that would be bad form. I’d say Trudeau should cancel but that would insult the Americans.
So I’m left saying the only thing I can; it’s time for Justin Trudeau to stop having us pay for his vanity projects.