By Gillian Slade on October 14, 2016.
The cost of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s visit to Medicine Hat is not known yet but taxpayers will not be on the hook, says the Liberal Party of Canada.
Trudeau visited Medicine Hat Thursday in support of Stan Sakamoto, the Liberal candidate for the Oct. 24 Medicine Hat-Cardston-Warner byelection.
The expenses incurred are paid by the Liberal Party, said Braedan Caley, spokesperson for the party.
“The expenses are a mix of national and local campaign expenses. There are byelections limits applied to both the local and national expenditure,” said Caley. “The event is not a government event. It is a campaign event so the costs will be picked up by the campaign.”
An emailed statement from Cameron Ahmad, a press secretary for the prime minister’s office, read as follows:
“The Liberal Party of Canada will reimburse the federal government for the replacement value of the Prime Minister and staff travel, as per our usual procedures, and the Stan Sakamoto campaign will assume responsibility for all costs that would be appropriately determined to be an election expense.”
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The prime minister flew in on a government aircraft.
“(Trudeau) is only allowed to travel with RCMP protection,” said Caley. “He is not able to fly commercial. Other than transportation, all costs are reimbursed by the Liberal Party of Canada at the rate of a commercial equivalent.”
Sheldon Johnston, Libertarian party candidate, is concerned about the cost of the trip if “it is just for a selfie,” regardless of who is footing the bill.
If the purpose of the trip to Medicine Hat is to support the Liberal candidate in the byelection, then the tab should be added to the candidate’s campaign expenses, said Rod Taylor, Christian Heritage Party candidate.
Glen Motz, Conservative Party candidate, says if any of the cost of the trip to further a partisan campaign is paid by taxpayers that would be “disturbing.”
Carbon emissions from the aircraft to bring the prime minister to Medicine Hat for one evening in support of the local Liberal candidate is “hypocritical,” said Johnston, in view of Trudeau’s recent decision to impose a carbon tax on all the provinces if they don’t introduce one themselves.
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“The Liberal Party of Canada is purchasing carbon offsets for any passengers travelling with the prime minister for the purpose of the campaign trip,” said Caley.
Motz questions what that really means.
“It does not mean we have less emissions,” said Motz.
“The hypocrisy in it is fairly obvious,” said Taylor. “When there’s a national carbon tax imposed we the taxpayers will not only be paying for the fuel but the carbon tax on the fuel. Mr. Justin Trudeau doesn’t have to worry because someone else is footing the bill.”
Bev Waege, NDP candidate, was not available to comment.
Note: This story has been updated to correct that Braedan Caley works for the Liberal Party of Canada, not the Prime Minister’s Office. The attribution of the emailed statement has also been updated to correct the it came from the Prime Minister’s Office, not the party.
A Liberal Party spokesperson said it has been â€œthe longstanding practiceâ€ that when prime ministers travel for partisan events, â€œwith the prime minister being unable to fly commercially, the Liberal Party of Canada reimburses for the commercial equivalent.â€
A more appropriate headline would have been â€œLiberal Party to cover costs for PMâ€™s trip.â€