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Taxpayers on hook for $459,509 CETA party in Toronto

The lobby of the Fairmont Royal York Hotel in Toronto.

The lobby of the Fairmont Royal York Hotel in Toronto.

The price tag for the reception in Toronto this past September for the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) continues to grow.

CBC reports, “The federal government spent $121,454 on a Toronto reception for leaders of the European Union in September — a reception which, in turn, led Prime Minister Stephen Harper to offer his guests a $338,000 ride home on a government Airbus. The trip was treated as a ‘royal visit’ by orders of the prime minister’s office and the reception, at the Fairmont Royal York, brought in business leaders to meet the visiting delegation. The event meant flying in 17 government staff and renting a motorcade of vehicles to ferry staff and dignitaries to and from Pearson airport. …Added to the bill for the reception, that means the decision to add the Toronto event to the Ottawa summit cost a total of $459,509.”

The costs of the reception included:

  • $33,801 for the room and food

  • $13,049 for drinks

  • $8,101 for music (The Four Tenors and a military band)

  • $14,489 for staging and audio/visual services

  • $19,323 for backdrops (saying ‘Canada-EU Summit’)

  • $13,211 for airfare and hotels for 17 government staff

  • $11,627 for vehicle rentals.

The news article adds, “Other expenses, such as moving the delegation from Ottawa to Toronto, and the cost of hotels in Brussels for the flight crew, are not included.”

In October, before these additional costs were known, Linda McQuaig wrote, “The $300,000 junket — staged so that the EU officials could attend a hastily-arranged private reception for an elite business crowd in Toronto — is also a reminder that the beneficiaries of this Canada-EU trade deal were almost all at that reception.”

The reception was an add-on to the Canada-EU summit in Ottawa earlier that same day. And while we oppose CETA, by any measure the value of that summit was also questionable.

In early August, Council of Canadians trade campaigner Scott Harris commented, “If it all comes together — and perhaps even if it doesn’t — we’ll definitely see an well-choreographed photo op on Parliament Hill. And, like last October, we’ll see Prime Minister Harper telling everyone once again that CETA is a done deal. But it wasn’t true then, and it won’t be true on September 26. …We won’t see a formal signing of the agreement, let alone a conclusion of the process. If — and it’s still an if — the negotiators are able to reach what is called ‘technical finalization’ on the agreement by September 26 there is still a months-long process of legal scrubbing of the text by lawyers on both sides.”

For more on our campaign to defeat CETA, please click here.

Further reading
CETA protested on Parliament Hill today (September 26 blog)