It costs money for any world leader to go anywhere. But, Michael Harris writes, because ordinary people are footing the bill, those leaders should ride herd on travel costs. Consider some of those costs:
The King of Personal Pork is undoubtedly President Donald Trump. In just 100 days in office, he has gouged U.S. taxpayers out of $100 million for his travel, including those frequent weekend junkets to his Mar-a-Lago resort — free airfare, free security, and, of course, free advertising for his businesses.
President Obama’s travel bill, by way of comparison, was $97 million … over eight years.
In 2012, taxpayers shelled out $1.2 million to ship two armoured Cadillacs and a bulletproof SUV to India for Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s visit to that country. The Indian government offered a few limos of its own for the historic occasion; apparently they didn’t meet Steve’s high standards.
So Harper ordered a Canadian Forces C-17 to fly in his own wheels on this 22,000-kilometre round-trip — maybe the most expensive taxi ride in history. (I’m assuming the cargo plane was too small to also accommodate Harper’s ego, which travelled by Challenger jet.) When the heat came down for this ludicrous extravagance, Harper did what he always did when he found himself in a corner. He blamed someone else — in this case, the RCMP.
And that brings Harris to Justin Trudeau and his Christmas vacation in the Bahamas:
It was reported last May that the prime minister’s holiday excursion to Bell Island in the Bahamas — where he, his family, a nanny and a few colleagues were guests of a billionaire — cost taxpayers $127,000.
Thanks to the excellent reporting of the CBC’s Elizabeth Thompson, we now know the true cost of the PM’s sleepover with the Aga Khan (who, by the way, also lobbies the government of Canada): not $127,000, but $215,398.
The lesson is pretty straightforward. Those who claim to be champions of the middle class should not act like royalty. That kind of behaviour sparks revolution.