Expense program for former governors general has caused concern for two decades, Trudeau told in briefing note

Brian PlattBrian Platt

New documents confirm that each former governor general can claim up to $206,000 per year, an amount reported by the National Post last year based on confidential sources

For two decades, concerns have been circulating in government over the usefulness and transparency of a program that allows former governors general to make expense claims on the public dime for the rest of their lives, according to a briefing note prepared last fall for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Documents obtained through an access-to-information request to the Privy Council Office also disclose for the first time the internal guidelines for the program — guidelines which were only established in 2012, despite the program existing since 1979. The documents confirm that each former governor general is allowed to claim up to $206,000 per year, an amount not publicly released but reported by the National Post last year based on confidential sources.

The expenses are on top of the $143,000 annual pension (rising over time) that goes to every former governor general, and on top of the multi-million dollar start-up grant each one gets to create a charitable organization.

The expense program was established 40 years ago on the rationale that governors general still carry out duties related to their role after they leave office, such as attending ceremonies and making speeches. But the program is shrouded in secrecy, as Rideau Hall (more specifically, the Office of the Secretary to the Governor General) is not subject to access-to-information requests and declines to report publicly about the expense claims.

The only hint about the expenses comes through an accounting quirk, where a supplier charging more than $100,000 to the government is identified in the government’s public accounts. Adrienne Clarkson is the only former governor general to have consistently shown up in the public accounts year after year, which is why she became the focus of media attention. Yet even this line item discloses just a portion of the expense claims; it is typically office expenses and excludes travel and hospitality claims, meaning the full amount in a given year can be much higher.

Last October, after the National Post reported that Clarkson has claimed at least $1.1 million — and likely much more — in expenses since leaving office in 2005, the prime minister announced the program would be reviewed to ensure it met “a certain level of transparency and accountability” expected by Canadians.

full story at https://nationalpost.com/news/politics/expense-program-for-former-governors-general-has-caused-concern-for-two-decades-trudeau-told-in-briefing-note

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