Bar tab on PM’s airplane shows booze flowing freely in-flight

Passengers aboard the PM’s 2020 six-stop tour of Europe and Africa, consumed 95 bottles of wine and 93 cans of beer

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The in-flight bar did brisk business during Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s 2020 visit to Ethiopia, government records show.

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Data revealing alcohol consumption on federal government VIP aircraft show that the 50-odd passengers aboard Can Force One who accompanied the PM on his February 2020 six-stop tour of Europe and Africa, consumed 95 bottles of wine and 93 cans of beer, racking up an in-flight bar tab of $1,414.81.

The size of the bottles and cans and the vintages and brands of each were not included in the data.

Can Force one is a government-owned Airbus fitted out for VIP travel. The data were released from Global Affairs Canada to an April 27 order paper question from York–Simcoe Conservative MP Scot Davidson.

That trip included stops in Spain, Senegal, and Greece, as well as talks in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa.

Two Can Force One flights — the PM’s June 4 to 7 France trip for the 75th anniversary of D-Day and his June 26 to 29 visit to Osaka for the G20 Summit — both saw bar tabs exceeding $800.

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The Europe trip saw $845.80 spent on 43 bottles of wine and 35 cans of beer, while the PM’s Japan flight netted $843.76 on 57 bottles of wine and 35 cans of beer.

The Prime Minister’s Aug. 23 to 26 2021 flight to attend the G7 Leaders’ Summit in Biarritz, France saw $615.33 spent on 34 bottles of wine, and 21 cans of beer.

As government policy forbids Canadian prime ministers from flying commercially, travel for VIPs and senior government officials is provided by the Royal Canadian Air Force. The prime minister is accompanied by staff and often by reporters.

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Only three trips listed alcohol totals that came in under $100.

One was then foreign affairs minister Marc Garneau, who took an RCAF Challenger business jet to the May 2021 Arctic Council summit in Reykjavik, Iceland. That flight saw $95.72 spent on four bottles of wine between him and his five passengers.

The second was the PM’s March 24th Extraordinary NATO Summit meeting to discuss Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which showed $88.46 in charges on 15 bottles of wine and five cans of beer.

The flight with the lowest alcohol cost was the PM’s November 2021 trip to Washington, D.C. to attend the “Three Amigos Summit” with U.S. President Joe Biden and Mexican President Andrés Obrador, where a single $2.64. can of beer was consumed.

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While members of the Parliamentary Press Gallery frequently accompany the prime minister on overseas flights, reporters don’t travel on Can Force One for free.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau waves as he disembarks a government plane in Berlin, Germany, March 8, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau waves as he disembarks a government plane in Berlin, Germany, March 8, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

In a note added to the release by the Global Affairs department, news outlets are charged a flat flee — often in the thousands of dollars — which includes “all services associated with flights on the Prime Minister’s plane…including any beverages they may consume.”

Bar tab on PM's airplane shows booze flowing freely in-flight

On Tuesday, National Post reported that Governor General Mary Simon used $93,117.89 worth of in-flight catering during her trip to Expo 2020 Dubai in March.

None of that total reported sum was apparently spent on alcohol, however. Global Affairs’ data list  that trip’s booze bill separately, at only $113.97, consisting of 19 bottles of wine and 15 cans of beer.

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Rideau Hall spokesperson Natalie Babin Dufresne said the Governor General shares Canadians’ concerns with expenses, but says the responsibility for the flight’s menu is the responsibility of the Royal Canadian Air Force.

“The Governor General undertakes official and state visits abroad only on request by the Prime Minister, and in support of Canada’s international diplomatic objectives,” Babin Dufresne wrote in a statement sent to National Post.

“The Canadian Armed Forces are responsible for providing transportation during these visits and as such are responsible for all decisions relating to catering on these flights.”

The Governor General’s Dubai visit was her second trip overseas since taking office in July 2021.

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Her first out-of-country function — an Oct. 17 to 21 state visit to Berlin and Frankfurt — saw Simon and around 30 passengers consume 17 bottles of wine, five bottles of ice wine and two cans of beer, which according to the documents cost $186.81.

Flight manifest and catering costs on this flight aren’t available, as the Tuesday’s order paper question only included government flights from Dec. 2021 onwards.

Bar tab on PM's airplane shows booze flowing freely in-flight

Franco Terrazzano, Federal Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, described the Governor General’s six-figure catering tab as contempt for taxpayers.

“Taxpayers have every right to feel disrespected when they find out more than $3,100 per person was spent on in-flight catering,” he said.

“This huge waste of money shows it’s long past time for the government to stick up for taxpayers and end the office of the governor general’s frivolous spending.”

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