Gov. Gen. Mary Simon says media’s portrayal of trip expenses was ‘unfair’ but changes could be in the works

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Governor General Mary Simon says that whereas she thinks the manner catering expenses for her trip to the Middle East in March had been portrayed in the media was “unfair,” a evaluation is underway to attenuate the price of future voyages.

“I do not even know what the orders are for meals. But I do know one factor — our meals should not very extravagant on these journeys. They’re just about like airline meals and the manner they had been portrayed in the media was fairly unfair, I believed,” Simon mentioned in an interview on CBC’s The House airing Saturday.

The National Post first reported on the price of the Governor General’s trip, throughout which she hung out in London, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Kuwait. The Department of National Defence (DND), which is liable for organizing catering on official diplomatic flights, mentioned the whole catering price for the eight-day trip was round $80,000.

Simon informed host Catherine Cullen her workplace shares the issues of Canadians concerning the trip price and is working with Global Affairs Canada and DND to scale back expenses in the future.

CBC News: The House15:10Governor General weighs in on Russian aggression and criticisms of her journey spending

Governor General Mary Simon sits down with host Catherine Cullen to debate challenges going through the Arctic and explains why journey to worldwide gatherings is crucial to her job.

Last month, Stewart Wheeler, who serves as chief of protocol for Canada at Global Affairs Canada, mentioned some parts of the flights had been “problematic.” MPs expressed confusion about the price and Conservative MP Pierre Paul-Hus mentioned he needed to know if there have been “excesses.”

Christine MacIntyre, deputy secretary to the Governor General, informed MPs Rideau Hall was additionally stunned and anxious by the prices.

“The prices had been actually surprising to all of us,” she mentioned. “We had eggs. We had omelettes.”

In a press release to CBC News, DND mentioned an interdepartmental working group was being created to draft measures “in pursuit of the very best worth going ahead.” The division mentioned catering prices are affected by every thing from trade charges and the location of stops, to the quantity and sort of catering corporations obtainable.

Simon informed The House that her worldwide journey was at the path of the prime minister.

“I do not simply decide up my suitcase and journey wherever I need,” she mentioned. “Every journey has to be very rigorously deliberate. The aims of the trip must be very clearly outlined.”

Travel a essential half of the job: Simon

Simon mentioned she expects one other parliamentary committee assembly on the matter and he or she hopes MPs can “proceed to clear up what the misunderstanding is.”

“I feel there’s a want for individuals to grasp that, first of all, I do not take my job evenly, and secondly, I’d love to do it in the most conservative manner that I can. But the quantity of journey that we do is great and it is a essential half of the job,” she mentioned.

Simon mentioned she had no function in the logistics of trip planning but was centered on the function of her trip.

WATCH | Governor General Mary Simon addresses trip expenses:

Governor General Mary Simon responds to controversy over the price ticket of her trip to the Middle East earlier this yr.

Governor General Mary Simon responds to controversy over the price ticket of her trip to the Middle East earlier this yr.

“I’m concerned in discussions about world peace and Canada’s function in world peace. And going into totally different international locations to speak with our companions on how we are able to work collectively to additional our place on world peace is essential for Canada, in addition to the world,” she mentioned. “So I take that duty very critically.”

The Governor General spoke to The House from Reykjavík, Iceland, the place she took half in the Arctic Circle Assembly, a gathering to debate points and challenges in the Arctic.

GG embraces multifaceted function

Simon mentioned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine posed a major threat to co-operation and progress in the Arctic. The Arctic Council, the main intergovernmental discussion board on the area, is basically on pause as a result of Russia holds its chairmanship.

Russia’s invasion poses “a threat to the world,” Simon mentioned.

Simon is Canada’s first Indigenous Governor General. She was born in Kangiqsualujjuaq in northern Quebec.

Governor General Mary Simon makes her manner into the Qarmaapik Family House on Tuesday, May 10, 2022 in Kangiqsualujjuaq, Que. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

“We’ve all the time understood amongst ourselves in the Arctic area that that is our homeland, and it ought to keep our homeland,” she mentioned. Simon additionally famous that whereas the Arctic is definitely seen as a strategic space, it is additionally essential to acknowledge that for many who reside there, peaceable collaboration and growth is essential.

Simon, who has lengthy labored on Arctic points, mentioned collaboration in the area has progressed significantly over the previous a number of many years and has embraced a larger acceptance of the function performed by Indigenous individuals.

“You know you’ll be able to see that that change, but the change has to be embraced in a manner the place we’re not simply speaking about the function of individuals, but really involving them in the discussions and in the decision-making course of of how the Arctic is being affected by totally different points,” she mentioned.

While she mentioned she stays apolitical, Simon added she is ready to utilizing her “convening energy” to spur conversations with the prime minister and others to share her recommendation.

Simon mentioned that she’s guided by her background as a northerner, her function as Governor General and her dedication to addressing reconciliation, describing her function as “multi-level.”

“I’m very concerned in that work and I keep very centered on my mandate, but my previous is all the time guiding me.”

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