Gordon Campbell racks up big hospitality tab
Gordon Campbell talks about the HST on Monday, Sept. 13, 2010.
Published Tuesday, July 17, 2012 12:05PM PDT
Last Updated Tuesday, July 17, 2012 4:10PM PDT
As Canada’s High Commissioner to the U.K., Gordon Campbell racked up a huge bill for hospitality costs for the first five months of 2012, greatly outspending every other ambassador during the same time period.
The former B.C. premier’s expense records were posted to the Foreign Affairs website under proactive disclosure rules, revealing one $3,068 lunch and several thousand-dollar dinners and receptions.
However, the High Commissioner’s online expense records changed overnight Monday, plummeting from more than $67,000 down to $33,975. The Department of Foreign Affairs told CTV News that the original record was inaccurate, and included events that were paid for by other departments or members of the private sector.
Campbell’s expenses still put him far ahead of the second highest-spending dignitary, Canada’s ambassador to Tokyo Jonathan Fried, who had spent $23,408 by the start of June. Gary Doer, the ambassador to Washington, D.C., spent just $2,682 in the same time period.
Foreign Affairs spokesman Jean-Bruno Villeneuve said in an email that the High Commission to the U.K. is one of Canada’s largest missions abroad, and 2012 is a busy year for hospitality with both the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the Summer Olympics in the schedule.
“The High Commission's hospitality expenses are in line with the pivotal role it plays in promoting Canada's economic and foreign policy priorities abroad,” Villeneuve said.
But taxpayers’ advocates aren’t impressed.
Jordan Bateman of the Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation said some of the most galling charges are the smaller figures, like the $600 in formal men’s wear rentals from Moss Bros.
“[Campbell] makes more than $200,000 a year. He has free room and board, he has a driver, he has a cook… and yet he can’t afford the uniform he needs to do his job,” Bateman said.
“All of us working across the province, we pay for our own work boots, we pay for our jackets.”
The numbers also reflect pre-Olympic spending, Bateman added, suggesting there could be a significant surge in expenses once world leaders arrive in London for the Games.
“When he’s spending this kind of money before anyone’s even come to town, that’s a bit scary,” he said.
Campbell’s staff in the U.K. said he was unavailable to comment.